On Saturday November 2, 2002, thirty six local youth ages 15-25 participated in a youth dialogue at The Beatbox youth center sponsored by the Northwest Area Foundation. The forum addressed reducing poverty and empowering youth through economic and community development. Mayor Ed Malloy presented an overview of Iowa's and Jefferson County's unique economic history and stressed Fairfield's particular growth in the entrepreneurial sector. Sandy Stevers, director of the DECAT project for the Department of Human Services, shared data from the DECAT project to help the youth put Jefferson County juvenile crime rates and high school drop out rates into perspective with area counties. After these opening presentations youth worked in small discussion groups and talked about who falls through the cracks into poverty and how poverty can be reduced through long term solutions. "It opened my eyes to see so many kids come together for such a positive topic. The dialogue changed my outlook on life and will make a big difference in the outcome of The Beatbox. Chain reactions will occur," said David Rozen, a 17 year-old participant of the youth forum. Other youth commented on the comfort of the environment and that they felt like their opinions mattered to the facilitators and sponsor. "The forum provided an avenue to gather the youth's needs from their perspective," said Stevers. "Now is the time for change," said Beatbox co-director and forum facilitator Roland Wells. "We need to capitalize on the momentum and energy of the dialogue and allow the youth to create positive impacts on the community as a whole."
Area youth are invited to voice their opinion on local economic matters through an online survey available until December 1, 2002 at the website: http://www.ruralpolicyforum.org/fairfieldyouth. After the completion of the online survey and discussion questions, participants will be entered into a drawing for a $75 gift certificate to a local retailer.
The Beatbox and the Northwest Area Foundation are currently pursuing future collaborations and projects to involve area youth in their anti-poverty campaign.
The following is a petition created by the youth and recited on Saturday, November 2, 2002 at the Reducing Poverty and Creating Economic Development Community Convening at The Beatbox:
We the People, the Youth of Jefferson County, see the need and ability of The Beatbox to increase the bounty of opportunity for this community.
Fairfield has more positive growth and negative statistics than all of the surrounding communities, a clear indication of potential being wasted.
The Beatbox offers an environment that parents can't give us and that is vital to the growth and development of us, as people, and Jefferson County as a community.
The Beatbox deserves funding to fuel the growth of this community from the youth up.
"It takes a community to raise a child."
If you share this vision for the Youth of Jefferson County, please visit the Beatbox at 116 N. Court St and sign this petition to help Keep The Beatbox Open.