PALMDALE – Palmdale residents gathered Thursday evening to discuss problems the youth face in the community during the first “Commitment to Youth” meeting.
“The end goal for this is Palmdale is looking for a youth master plan to come out of this,” said Trisha Jones, community programs supervisor for the city of Palmdale.
Jones said she doesn’t know how the master plan will form because it’s part of the process of the meetings.
“(We’re) really deciding the priorities of this community and how best to put them together. What we hope it will be at the end is a road map,” Jones said.
Anne Ambrose, director of public safety and community relations for the city of Palmdale, said five years ago when the community set a strategic plan for the city, one of the top goals was youth.
“It was concerns about the safety for youth, it was concerns about programs for youth, and so this project directly came out of that,” Ambrose said.
The city of Palmdale wants to identify shared values towards the youth in the community, she added.
“There’s no right answer, there’s no wrong answer, there’s not anything specific that we’re looking for,” Jones said. “It’s a truly open discussion and a chance for you to share. A lot of you come from different backgrounds and different experiences in the community and that’s the true value of this.”
A few students from Palmdale High School as well as a freshman at Antelope Valley College represented the youth Thursday and provided their ideas on what works in Palmdale and what needs improvement.
The discussion continually shifted back to the lack of knowledge about the opportunities and resources available to the youth.
All the students agreed that when it comes to employment, the youth need a lot of help in finding a job.
The Director of the Boys and Girls Club, Jay Duke, asked the students if they knew of resources such as the Employment Development Department and youth work programs, and none did. So the problem is how to get that kind of information to the youth, he added.
Lesly Nguimzor, a Palmdale high school junior, suggested they advertise it more on billboards. Her classmate Jarred Ford said a Facebook fanpage would be a good idea as well.
“We have Joe Palmdale (on Facebook) for the adults, but maybe we need a Joe Junior page for the youth,” Jones said.
Ford said kids would probably friend them if the page was marketed right.
“If I see it, I like it and then it goes out to all my friends to see it, and if they look at it they like it, and it keeps going from there,” Ford said.
Joselyn Salazar, another Palmdale High School junior added that kids don’t go and look for the information.
“If it comes to them, that’s how they get informed about it,” Salazar said.
Duke said he thinks they need to recruit people who will get the word out at the schools.
“We need the enthusiasts to help us get it to the kids at their own school, [and] other schools as well,” he said.
Putting together a youth communications group is something Jones said she is interested in doing because they would know better how to reach the kids and get them involved.
“I think this was a great jumping off point for us to kind of plan the next couple months of outreach that we do,” she said.
The next “Commitment to Youth” meeting will be in May, and will be announced on the city of Palmdale youth page, Jones said.
“It wasn’t a huge turnout but I really think it started the conversation, and it’s given us insight into reaching out even further…and what that tells me is that there is an interest in our youth and that there is a commitment,” Jones said.