‘Yes, We Can!’ youth conference set March 10

'Yes, We Can!' youth conference set March 10 The South II Cooperative Extension Service Educators will host a "Yes, We Can!" youth conference on Saturday, March 10 at the Clay County 4-H Center in Vermillion.

The free conference is for youth age 11-18 from seven southeastern South Dakota counties, as well as the surrounding counties in Iowa and Nebraska, and includes a sponsored lunch for participants.

The conference begins with registration from 9:30 to 10 a.m.

Keynote speaker Dr. Gary Heusel, Nebraska State 4-H Program Leader, will address the group at 10:15 a.m. He will discuss leadership partnerships between youth and adults and how they develop competent, confident, connected young people of good character. He will encourage conference participants to explore ways to work together to make their communities a better place to live.

Heusel has worked with 4-H at the local, state and national levels in some of the most rural areas of the country and in urban centers such as Chicago. He has also conducted youth development programs in Brazil, Costa Rica, Germany and Japan. He currently serves on the national board of directors for Character Counts!, a character education program. He was one of 30 signers of the Aspen Declaration which initiated the Character Counts! program in 1992.

Several topics will be covered throughout the day in four one-hour breakout sessions. They include:

* Teenage Hormones � Learn positive ways to handle your teenage years. Hear the latest information on sexually transmitted diseases and how to cope with peer pressure.

* QPR: Learn How to Save a Life � QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) is a nationally recognized suicide prevention program. Participants will learn how to recognize suicidal warning signs and what steps to take to help someone.

* Character Counts! � Explore ways to make your community a better place to live and work.

* Water Safety/Intro to Scuba Equipment � Participants will learn about swimming safety, the use of personal flotation devices, water rescue and hypothermia, and cold water survival techniques. You will also see how scuba equipment is used in underwater rescues.

* Life is a Balancing Act � Learn positive ways to handle the growing up years. Does peer pressure influence your decision-making? Gain new ideas to direct your energy and balance your life.

* Suicide Grief � This session will explain what's different about coping with a loss from suicide. Learn the phases of grief, positive coping skills and resources that are available to help.

* The Law and You: What You Need to Know � An introduction to the juvenile justice system and how it affects you. The program may shock and reveal a new insight on an unknown and complicated system.

* Improve Your Social Skills and Self-Esteem � Model appropriate social skills and improve your self-esteem with role playing activities.

* Your Character Counts For Your Future � Explore your future career options, planning your college adventures and discover the importance of doing this with character.

* Electrical Safety Town � Learn about electrical safety all around your town. Participate in a work/play safety demonstration exercise.

* Real World 101 � Receive a paycheck and make your own spending decisions. Learn to take control of your money to meet your needs and wants.

* The Sun Shines on Everyone! � A fun and lively program introducing togetherness, tolerance and acceptance of everyone through video and role playing.

* Anger and Stress Management � Everyone experiences anger and stress as we grow. How you handle your feelings affects others around you. Gain new coping skills to decrease your feelings of frustration.

Small group mixers are scheduled throughout the day, conducted by South Dakota State University Collegiate 4-H'ers. Lunch, at 12:30 p.m., and a 5:30 p.m. supper at the conclusion of the conference, will be provided by various business and community sponsors. A dance is also planned, hosted by the Clay County 4-H Junior Leaders. Music will be provided by DJ Tim Ganschow. Area youth, ages 11-18 are welcome. There is a $2 cover charge for the dance which will run from 7 to 10 p.m.

The youth conference is open to the first 150 youth who pre-register by March 1. More information is available at the local Extension offices, or feel free to call the Clay County Extension Office at 605-677-7111, or the Union County Extension Office at 605-356-2321. The conference is made possible with support of the SDSU Extension Service, numerous agencies and businesses, and a CYFAR grant.

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