On July 1, 2020

Thinking outside the box

Vermont Youth Project mobilizes community to reach youth this summer

RUTLAND—When a group of dedicated agencies known as the Vermont Youth Project of Rutland County realized that youth summer camp programs were going to be limited, they acted.  Working together, Mentor Connector, 4-H, and the Partners for Prevention put out the call to action to their partners.

Multiple agencies, including Wonderfeet Museum, Boy Scouts, Rutland City Recreation Department, Rutland Partners for Prevention, Project Vision, Tobacco Prevention, and Slate Valley Trails heard the call and came to the table. Together, over 22 organizations created an innovative way to reach Rutland County youth this summer: “Out of the Boxes” subscription activity boxes.

The group began creating plans for free, bi-weekly activity boxes that will be distributed for pick-up at multiple locations around Rutland County. Each free box will include activities like making butter, marble runs, solar ovens, scavenger hunts and more. Kimberly Griffin, 4-H, educator through UVM Extension and initiative lead explained: “Each week the box will have a theme like celebrating Dairy Month, Fun with Science, Food, and Exploring Nature.”

Community engagement and mobilization has been overwhelming.

Agencies and organizations have stepped up to assist with the “Out of the Boxes” youth summer activities as the need has grown:

Vermont Country Store and Rutland Regional Medical Center have donated items needed for activities.

The libraries in Rutland, Poultney, and Brandon have agreed to be the distribution points for box pick up as well as Fair Haven Concerned.

Vermont Farmers Food Center, along with contributing to activity needs, is allowing the group to stage box packing in their winter market facility.

Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum, another activity contributor, is also assisting with distribution throughout the county.

The goal was to distribute 500 boxes the first week, but the need quickly surged to 1,500.

The Vermont Youth Project of Rutland County is part of a larger initiative supported by Vermont Afterschool. It is a community-driven collaborative designed to embrace positive youth development at the local level. For more information visit KidsVT.com/RutlandCounty.

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