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Youth challenge Sunday
Event to showcase offerings in area

Friday, September 20, 2013

Youth and their families are invited to grab a map and navigate through a maze of fun activities and demonstrations at the first Youth Passport Challenge, scheduled this weekend.

The free family festival, which is aimed at kids from 8 to 18, will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Smith River Sports Complex. The rain date is Sept. 29.

Attendees will go through a scavenger hunt-like course with games, sports, arts and crafts, free snacks, a DJ, and a chance to win prizes — including a bicycle as the grand prize.

The event is a collaboration between The Harvest Foundation and nearly 30 local youth-serving organizations.

“The goal of the Youth Passport Challenge is to show kids and their parents all that Martinsville-Henry County has to offer — educationally, recreationally and socially — in a fun and interactive way,” said Gladys Hairston, program officer for The Harvest Foundation.

The idea for the event came out of a strategic planning process convened by Harvest. Over five months, Hairston said, more than 40 representatives of local youth-serving organizations came together to develop a Positive Youth Development Community Action Plan.

As part of this process, she said, “They identified goals and strategies to meet the needs of youth related to career readiness, life skills and recreation. A recurring theme throughout these discussions was that many families are unaware of some of the activities and services available in our community.”

“I am excited that we all as youth organizations have the opportunity to display educational, research-based programs to the parents and youth,” said Brian Hairston, Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H agent for Henry County and Martinsville and one of the event organizers. “Kids are always saying that ‘there's nothing to do,’ but there are more opportunities in this area than any other.”

The 4-H booth will offer STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities using iPad minis and leadership development, Brian Hairston said. Other participating organizations will share information about their services and provide a wide array of activities at their booths, including mini rocket launches, painting, fitness activities, animals, canoe demonstrations and more. Booths will be set up from the turf fields down to the pond at the sports complex.

“Our staff at the Smith River Sports Complex has always been committed to engaging the youth in this community any way we can while also utilizing our facility to better serve this group,” said Billy Russo, the complex’s director of operations, another event organizer. “We are thrilled to have this event out at SRSC and we hope that it can grow in the future.”

Other participating organizations include The Artisan Center, Bassett Community Center, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge, CHILL, Citizens Against Family Violence, Coventry Cares of VA, CrossPoint Church, Dan River Basin Association, Henry County Schools, Henry County Sheriff’s Office, MajestaCare, Martinsville Schools’ NASA SEMAA program, Martinsville Macaroni Kid, Martinsville-Henry County SPCA, MHC After 3, MHC Coalition for Health and Wellness, New College Institute, Patrick Henry Community College, Piedmont Arts, Piedmont Community Services, Spencer-Penn Centre, Tackfully Teamed Riding Academy, United Way of Henry County and Martinsville, Upward Bound/Upward Bound Math & Science, Virginia Museum of Natural History, and the Martinsville-Henry County Family YMCA.


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