The Empower Coös Youth public awareness campaign was inspired by the idea of having students directly in engaged with the data coming out of the Coos Youth Study and developing strategies for sharing that data with the broader community. In 2008, the Carsey School of Public Policy at University of New Hampshire began a 10-year longitudinal study of youth in Coös County, New Hampshire to better understand their beliefs, attitudes and aspirations for the future. The study gathered data on the attitudes, aspirations, and experiences of Coös youth – exploring family, school, and community relationships, attachment to the Coos region, and educational and career goals. The study relies on surveys and interviews with the same participants over time, because of this, it affords a unique look at trends in the feelings and attitudes young people have about their communities and the decisions they make about their education and life goals. The study is funded by the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and the National Science Foundation.
Beginning in 2012, with support from the Tillotson Fund, local students living throughout Coos County, New Hampshire reviewed research about youth experience in the region and created campaigns that reflected their experiences related to the research findings. Each year of the Empower Coos Youth campaign focuses on a different set of findings from the Coos Youth Study. The intention is to encourage youth, families, and civic and community leaders to read the Carsey Institute for Public Policy research on Coös youth, discuss the challenges and strengths it reveals, and to consider innovative ways to engage and support youth in the region. Each campaign also has a set of recommendations, based on local and national research, for parents, schools and community members. For example, among the Youth Study’s research, a finding that community connectedness correlates with positive outcomes for youth. While youth in Coos are engaged in their communities, the research shows that despite such participation, many feel that their voices are muted, and that their ideas or perspectives are not heard by adults. The quality of young people’s interactions with adults is so critical to social and emotional development. This campaign seeks to help young people’s voices be heard.
We want all kids in the Coos County region to feel empowered and connected to community, and to reach their full potential.