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SIY logo winners announced

The Suffolk Initiative on Youth will now have a logo to identify its work and raise awareness for the program.

In September, SIY announced a contest for young artists to design a symbol for the program. It was open to middle and high school students. One of the contest rules required the text include Suffolk Initiative on Youth or SIY and be based on the theme of stopping crime and violence among young people.

The winners were announced at last week’s city council meeting.

Though they received about 100 entries from several schools, all three finalists were students from Nansemond River High School. Jason Hilton, 15, placed first, with Karly Hartline, 17, in second and Amber Gould, 14, in third.

First place received $200. Second and third place were awarded $100 and $50. The prize money was provided by Wal-Mart.

Dennis Craff, director of communications for the city, said, &uot;This is the culmination of several weeks of anticipation and hard work of these young people.&uot;

Judges included Tom Powell, owner of the Addison Group, Horace Balmer, co-owner of Main Street Jazz Restaurant, and Tyron Riddick, one of the teen members of SIY.

Suffolk City Council established the Suffolk Initiative on Youth in February in response to a number of violent crimes involving teens from the city. Some of those incidents included shootings of and by young people.

Those involved with SIY, including city officials, police, churches, schools, local residents and teens, have spent the last year collecting data, holding focus groups, interviewing residents and sponsoring community forums on youth violence.

Also during Wednesday’s meeting, Assistant City Manger Selena Cuffee-Glenn updated council members on what has been happening with the program since it was established.

From February through August, program participants analyzed the issues surrounding youth crime and violence and developed the STOP Violence Youth Crime Prevention Plan, which was approved by Council in September.

This plan calls for law enforcement involvement through curfew and truancy enforcement, high-intensity patrols, intelligence operations and community outreach. Youth development is another key component. It starts with hiring a youth services coordinator to coordinate and enhance programs and services for city youth, Cuffee-Glenn said. They have received more than 70 applications for the position, which should be filled next month.

Other youth development elements include:

n Partnering with the Department of Economic Development to introduce students to job opportunities and work ethics;

n Partnering with the regional workforce investment board to bring federally funded youth employment and training program to Suffolk;

n Establish a Youth Advisory Council of 15 people to advise the city on programs and policies pertaining to youth. One person will be appointed from each voting borough, and one person appointed from each high school, including Nansemond-Suffolk Academy;

n Host a city-wide youth forum tentatively set for April; and

n Start a Youth Public Safety Academy, to be led by SPD, to give at-risk youth the chance to learn about the police and fire departments.

Cuffee-Glenn’s presentation to Council also included funding sources for SIY and its various endeavors. So far they received a Justice Assistance Grant of $47,428 that will be used to hire the youth services coordinator. They also received a Youth Community Service and Civic Engagement Grant of $10,000, which will go toward a program for at-risk youth to teach them life skills and build character, confidence and more, she said.

ashley.taylor@suffolknewsherald.com