BROOKSVILLE — Last week's fourth annual Summit for Youth and Families brought together community members for a day of presentations and exchanges designed to tackle problems affecting young people.
Issues that concern the Hernando Youth Initiative Steering Committee are graduation rates, teen pregnancy, substance use and abuse, violence, gangs, child abuse and neglect, childhood obesity, mentors, post-secondary education and transition into the workforce, early learning development, creating inter-generational connectedness and media influence.
"We're here to effect positive change in Hernando County," said initiative chairwoman Tracy Echols, adding that the group's mission is "to promote and address the needs of children and families to assure the economic success of Hernando County and its future workforce."
Speakers representing various organizations addressed a range of topics.
For childhood obesity, presenters adorned as fruits and vegetables invited the audience to stand and move around a bit.
Eleven break-out sessions occupied the afternoon agenda.
Hernando schools superintendent Bryan Blavatt stopped by to address the group.
"The Hernando Youth Initiative is a critical part of how we work with our young people," he said. "We've got to provide a highway to give them the opportunity to be all that they can be. The more opportunities we provide, the higher the level of success for our students."
This year's summit, Creating Hernando 2030, was held at Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville. It was sponsored by Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union, Dr. Natalie N. Ellis, Omni International, the Hernando County Anti-Drug Coalition, United Healthcare Community Plan, the Hernando County Medical Alliance Society, Avery Agency and James Yant.
Meals were provided by Chick-fil-A and Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q. The event was hosted by the Hernando Youth Initiative, the Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce's Chamber Education Training Association and the chamber's education committee.