The Office on Children and Youth |

April 18th, 2015 at 4:00pm, Massanutten WaterPark

Capture duck race 2015

We are excited to announce this year’s Lucky Duck Race Fundraiser, a fun and easy way to support the programming and work of OCY. How it works: Buy a Lucky Duck ticket, get $15 dollars off your Masanutten WaterPark general admission pass and a chance to win huge prizes, including a chance at winning $50,000*!! Each ticket you purchase corresponds with a rubber Lucky Duck that will be sent down the Lazy River at Masanutten WaterPark. The first three Lucky Ducks to cross the finish line win great prizes. Bring the family the day of the event to enjoy your WaterPark discount, but there is no need to be present to win.

By purchasing a lucky duck ticket, you are supporting important programs like:

The Reading Road Show – Gus Bus:  a mobile literacy program and bus that provides an opportunity for children and families in low-income communities to share story time, participate in a book exchange program, and build literacy skills.

The Migrant Education Program: provides supplemental instructional services and advocacy for highly mobile migrant children in order to help students reach challenging academic standards and graduate with a high school diploma or GED.

Teen Pregnancy Prevention: facilitates positive youth development in middle and high schools in Harrisonburg, Page, and Rockingham to prevent risky behaviors and promote healthy choices among our community’s youth.

Harrisonburg-Rockingham Youth Council: A youth-led community service group that empowers area youth to make healthy decisions and create a difference in their community.

Get your tickets soon!!! To purchase a ticket, or to volunteer to sell tickets, contact Jennifer Rea at or 540-568-2559.

A special thank you to our generous sponsors!

Event Sponsors: Massanutten WaterPark and Massanutten Resort

Platinum Level Sponsors: The Valley’s Fox, My Valley, WHSV, The V, DIGICO

Gold Level Sponsors: CommonWealth One Federal Credit Union, Cargill, Which Wich, Daily News Record

Silver Level Sponsor: BotkinRose PLC

Bronze Level Sponsors: Farm Credit County Mortgages, First Bank & Trust Co., LD&B Insurance and Financial Services, Massanutten Realty

*The first ten ducks that cross the finish line will be entered in an automated online system to match a preselected duck number and win $50,000.  A $50,000 winner is not guaranteed.

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Save the Date: OCY’s 17th Annual Teen Health Fair

THF image

Save the Date: OCY’s 17th Annual Teen Health Fair

April 15th, Broadway High School

April 16th, Harrisonburg High School

April 17th, East Rockingham High School

Each spring the Office on Children and Youth organizes the Teen Health Fair, a three day youth centered event that connects teens with health resources in our area.  Held at different local high schools each year, the fair promotes healthy living and choices for teens.  Over thirty local agencies and businesses provide information and resources on physical and mental health, recreation, career opportunities, and community resources to approximately 2,000 students. The fair is primarily directed towards 9th and 10th graders but all students are encouraged to attend.  There are free giveaways and prizes, games, food, and interactive activities.

Thank you to everyone who attends and/or supports the fair each year. We hope to see you there!

If you or your agency is interested in volunteering, or if you have any questions regarding the event, please contact Alex Williams by email at





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A Semester of Service With TOP®

#TheCrew and #ServiceSquad after gleaning apples.

#TheCrew and #ServiceSquad after gleaning apples.

Community service is central to the Teen Outreach Program®.  Voluntary and meaningful community service where students feel they have a say in what they do is key to building youth self-efficacy.  Each year TOP® students aim to complete twenty hours of community service, along with activities and discussion that help participating youth make healthy choices, set goals, and understand healthy relationships.  Our students and facilitators have been hard at work this semester doing good things in the community and learning the value of service.

Our neighborhood based club Mosby Heights Service Eagles volunteered at the Family Fall Festival in their neighborhood by helping set up games and activates for local children. The group also visited the SPCA and helped make toys for the dogs and cats waiting for a loving home. Harris Garden’s Golden Youth Neighborhood Club had a blast teaching and helping out on the Gus Bus one cold winter afternoon.

This semester Youth Council volunteered at Our Community Place, read to children and led activities during Family Literacy Night at Spotswood Elementary, and gave their input at a community meeting to address overcrowding in the local jail.

TOP® students at Luray High spent Veteran’s Day making handmade thank you cards for veterans in Page County. The group made over seventy cards and hand delivered their cards to veterans. Participants from Page County High School TOP® and FCCLA teamed up with Harrisonburg Old Navy to raise awareness and funds for the

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Students planned the event in honor of a classmate surviving with Hodgkin’s disease. These teens spent an entire Saturday at Old Navy posing as still models whereby customer’s donations allowed the models to change positions. These awesome young people raised over $500 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Students of TOP® at East Rockingham High School are putting their sowing skills to use and raising awareness and funds for breast cancer research. Each student designed their own quilt square in honor of someone they know or have known who has been impacted by breast cancer. The students will create and auction off the quilt, donating the earnings to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Page County High students at Old Navy after their fundraiser.

Page County High students at Old Navy after their fundraiser.

Spotswood High TOP® clubs United Blazers and The Helping Hands planned and facilitated activities for an after school program in their community. TOP® students read with children, taught sports, played math bingo and decorated cookies with over forty elementary aged students.

Harrisonburg High School clubs #ServiceSquad and #theCrew gleaned over 2000 pounds of apples to deliver to the Salvation Army. Later in the semester these great young folks volunteered at our local Boys and Girls Club.

Our Second Home TOP® club gave the Gus Bus a fall makeover by cleaning and decorating.  This crew also created playbooks of coloring sheets, crossword puzzles, and other games to send to children in hospitals.  Second Home students had a great time decorating a float and marching in Harrisonburg’s Christmas Parade.

All these positive youth driven service experiences foster a sense of belonging and connection and elicit healthy behaviors in youth. We cherish the moments when a young person directly helps and influences someone else’s life. We look forward to what these great young people have planned for the spring semester, and can’t wait to share with you their accomplishments.

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Let’s Talk!


Increasing dialogue and healthy communication between parents and their children about sexuality and relationships is an important part of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPP).  Each October, TPP participates in Let’s Talk Month, a national public education campaign celebrated in October and coordinated by Advocates for Youth. Let’s Talk Month is an opportunity for community agencies, religious institutions, businesses, schools, media, parent groups and health providers to plan programs and activities which encourage parent/child communication about sexuality. This month we release a youth generated PSA , will hold meetings and workshops with parents on how to better communicate with their children, and will provide information and resources to parents and youth.

According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, “86% of adults and 76% of parents say it would be much easier for teens to postpone sex and avoid pregnancy if they were able to have more open, honest conversations about these topics with their parents.” We know that breaching the subjects of sex and relationships with your child can be difficult, but we are here to provide you with the tools you need to start a life-long conversation with your child about sexuality and relationships. Being an “askable” parent is a crucial part in making sure your child comes to you, not their friends, for advice and information about relationships and sex.

10 tips towards being an askable adult:

1. Tell your children/teens they can talk to you about anything

2. Take advantage of teachable moments to start a conversation

3. Listen

4. Don’t make assumptions based on questions

5. Give simple, honest answers

6. Share your thoughts and values and respect your child’s

7. Reassure your child that their thoughts and questions are normal

8. Teach your children/teens how to make good decisions and get out of risky situations

9. It is okay to not know the answer— you both can learn it together

10. Discuss who your child/teen can talk to if they are not comfortable talking to you

Along with these 10 tips,  look to the resources below to help facilitate dialogue between you and your child.  If you or your group is interested in having TPP lead a group discussion or workshop on being an askable adult, contact Kati Derrick at 568-7685 or

Advocates for Youth – Parents Sex Ed Center

The National Campaign – Let’s Talk Month Resource Page

10 Tip’s Lets Talk Vertical pub (spanish)

10 Tip’s Lets Talk Vertical

ltm card side spanish





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You’re Invited: Youth Council Kick Off Party!

YC Kickoff 2014Are you a high school student who wants to get involved in the community? Want to meet new people, have fun, and figure out what’s important to you?  Then the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Youth Council is the place to be!

Youth Council, a Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program®, is an outlet and space where youth plan and implement community service projects, have fun, and figure out how to make those hard decisions in life! Perhaps more than anything it’s a place where young people can build positive and caring relationships between peers and adults.

If you are interested in learning more about Youth Council come out to our annual Kickoff Picnic at Purcell Park on Thursday, September 25th at 5:00pm, shelter number 1. We will have games, free food, giveaways, and talk more about the Youth Council and ways for YOU to be involved. Beginning October 2nd, we will meet EVERY Thursday from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Blue Ridge Hall in room 309 (across from Costco on University Blvd.).

Questions? Contact Josh Diamond at 540-568-2571 or at Find us on Facebook by searching Harrisonburg-Rockingham Youth Council.

Facebook event page: – YouthCouncil_poster2013kickoff

The Office on Children and Youth is a Certified Replication Partner of Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program ® (TOP®). TOP® is a comprehensive, evidence-based youth development strategy that promotes the positive development of adolescents through a combination of curriculum-guided group discussion and volunteer service learning.  

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Our Summer And The Coming School Year

We’ve enjoyed the slowness of summer, taking time to reflect on the challenges, opportunities, and successes of the past school year. As school starts, we look forward to another year of youth empowerment, literacy education, and child advocacy. We want to share with you our summer work with children and youth and give you a preview into the coming year.

Learning was fun and interactive at Migrant Education Program’s “STEM Survivors” summer camp. First through fifth grade migrant students spent the week imagining they were scientists stranded on a desert island, working in teams to creatively solve survival challenges. Using their knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, they utilized a variety of materials to design shelters and collect food and water to escape the island. Students also participated in STEM themed field trips to the Discovery Museum and Grand Caverns.  The week culminated in a celebration of the students’ accomplishments at Pump it Up!, where each participant was presented with a backpack filled with supplies for the coming school year.

That same week, the Reading Road Show-Gus Bus hosted their STEM Summer Enrichment Week Camp. Rising third and fourth grade students from Spotswood and Waterman Elementary Schools worked on science based projects that incorporated technology, math and engineering. Over the course of the week students designed catapults, programmed robots, built straw puppets, invented a new toy, explored the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum, discovered the Shenandoah Caverns, and much more! The week concluded with a family Game Night event at the Festival Conference Center to showcase students’ work to their families and friends.

Youth Council members and Teen Outreach Program® students had a blast at JMU’s Adventure Course. Teens worked together to fortify relationships and build self-awareness and personal strength. Youth Council students and the Teen Pregnancy Prevention team developed a PSA to air during Let’s Talk Month this October. The PSA, directed by youth, aims to foster communication between parents and their children about sexuality and healthy relationships. In addition, youth contributed vital input into the realities of teen life, issues, and needs, to strengthen grant applications. We put the final touches on the Youth Data Survey and are excited to share with you the results to help us as a community better serve and work with young people.

Looking forward with our community partners, we are so excited for another year of transformative work and services for our youth and children. Look out for the Gus Bus in your neighborhood—stop and say hi.  Look for us in your area high schools and middle schools facilitating positive youth development and teen pregnancy prevention programming with over 3,000 students. Look for TOP® teens making a difference in the community through their community service efforts (we have thirteen clubs this year!) Watch for Migrant Education advocates working to ensure our migrant youth have access to the services and education they need to be successful in school, life, and their futures. Keep an eye out for how you can support our fundraisers, volunteer in our programs, and help us grow! And of course, share with us in the hope and promise of our future generation, our youth.

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2013 Youth Data Survey

From the Introduction

The Office on Children and Youth (OCY) at James Madison University’s Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services (IIHHS) is pleased to present the Youth Data Survey 2013 for Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. Every two years in October the survey is administered to approximately half of all 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County. The OCY has been working with the community since 1996 to provide key data about local youth risk behaviors and produce data which enables the community to develop priority areas around youth issues. Administered by the OCY, the Youth Data Survey (YDS) is a collaborative effort between many community partners including: United Way, Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County Public Schools, Eastern Mennonite High School, James Madison University, Healthy Community Council, Rockingham Memorial Hospital Community Health, the Strong Families–‐Great Youth Coalition, Blue Ridge Area Health Education Center, and the Futuro Latino Coalition. Over 50 agency representatives and community volunteers assist with the administration of the survey every two years. The goal of the YDS is to examine the current as well as longitudinal trends around local youth risk behaviors with an approach that taps into the larger community question of what assets we need in our community to help people successfully navigate from infancy to adulthood. The objectives of the YDS for the community are the following: produce reliable information on risk behaviors; assess needs; ascertain gaps in service; assist in determining priority areas; allow agencies access to local data in order to write successful state, federal, and foundation grant applications to address the identified needs; and evaluate progress over time on the impact agency programs have on the local youth. The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life for the children and youth in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.

To view the survey and results simply go to the Youth Data Survey tab on the website, and scroll down to 2013. We hope you find the Youth Data Survey helpful in your work with young people.

For questions or clarifications concerning data please contact OCY’s Executive Director Kim Hartzler-Weakley at

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The National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Teens across the United States will participate in the 2014 National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy on May 7th.  The National Day raises awareness about teen pregnancy and invites teens to think and talk about relationships and potential consequences of their actions.  On May 7th, students in high schools across the nation will be invited to visit to take the National Day Quiz, which provides an interactive avenue for teens to explore potential sexual pressures and consider how they might handle risky sexual situations.  The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Healthy Community Council’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention (HCC TPP) Action Team will be at Harrisonburg, Broadway, Spotswood, East Rockingham, and Turner Ashby high schools this year where volunteers will be encouraging students to take the quiz.  There will also be interactive booths at each of the five schools listed to give teens an opportunity to play games, receive accurate information about sexuality and sexual health, and talk openly about healthy relationships.

Students can visit the National Day website to learn more about The National Campaign, other events going on throughout the Month of May, and to take the National Day quiz online.  Visit The National Campaign’s sister site to receive additional information and resources for sexual health.

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Positive Youth Development: What is it?

Here at the Office on Children and Youth (OCY), we integrate different educational approaches to meet the diverse needs of youth in the community. One important approach and field of research that we use in Teen Pregnancy Prevention is Positive Youth Development (PYD)—the notion that all youth are resources and assets to be developed (Roth & Brooks-Gunn, 2003a,b). If you are a youth leader, a teacher, or a youth yourself, we want to take a moment to share with you a working definition of PYD; what it looks like, how it’s implemented, and why it is important.

The focus of PYD is to help young people gain the knowledge and skills they need to become productive and healthy adults.  PYD uses a strengths based perspective, meaning it builds on the strengths and the unique attributes and characteristics of each individual (NRCYD, 2014).  Programs that promote the strengths of youth, develop positive adult-youth relationships, engage youth in skill building activities, and help youth participate in leadership of community activities develop the “Five C’s;” competence, confidence, character, connection, and caring (Lerner et al, 2005).

Whether working with middle or high school students, there are a few practices that are crucial for a successful program. Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program® and Draw the Line Respect the Line both pull heavily from PYD and in practice aim to provide or create:

  • Physical and psychological safety and security
  • structure that is developmentally appropriate
  • emotional and moral support
  • supportive adult relationships
  • opportunities to form relationships with peers
  • a sense of belonging and value
  • positive social values
  • opportunity for skill building
  • opportunities to develop confidence in their abilities
  • Opportunities to make contributions to the community

A crucial aspect of recognizing the individual assets of youth is working with curriculum that utilizes and respects the experiences and knowledge that youth already have, thus showing young people they have value and something to offer their peers, family, school, and community. There are various ways youth benefit from this approach. The research shows that many young people:

  • Gain skills they will need to become successful adults
  • Create new relationships with adults and peers, further connecting them to their community and enlarging their support network.
  • Gain a better understanding of the community and its diversity
  • Acquire a more positive stature in the community.
  • Gain a better appreciation for adults and the multiple roles they can play.
  • Begin to view the world, and their ability to affect it, in a positive way.
  • Feel needed and useful.
  • Feel enhanced power, autonomy, and self-esteem.
  • Increase grades and school participation
  • Decrease teen pregnancy rates

PYD is learner-centered, and seeks to validate the experience of youth participants by helping them articulate and understand their life choices, and the consequences of those choices. PYD benefits youth, but also creates strong relationships between youth, adults, and organizations.  We’ve found that centering youth’s experiences helps keep programming relevant to young people and lends itself to creativity by working with the sometimes unconventional and idealistic thinking of young people.

At the Office on Children and Youth we integrate PYD theory and practice throughout many of our programs. Teen Pregnancy Prevention and The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Youth Council are strong examples of this.  TOP® promotes positive youth development while teaching health-based information about pregnancy and sexuality.  It is our belief that when youth see themselves as valued and begin taking control of their lives, they are less likely to participate in unhealthy or risky behaviors. We hope this short report on PYD gives you insight into some of the theoretical basis and perspective for our work.

Lerner, R. M., Almerigi, J. B., Theokas, C., & Lerner, J. V.  (2005).  Positive youth development: a view of the issues.  The Journal of Early Adolescence Vol 5.

Roth, J. L. , & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2003a). What is a youth development program? Identification and defining principles. In. F. Jacobs, D. Wertlieb,& R. M. Lerner (Vol. Eds.), Enhancing the life chances of youth and families: Public service systems and public policy perspectives: Vol. 2.

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The Teen Health Fair: Information for Youth

On Wednesday April 23rd, and Thursday April 24th, The Office on Children and Youth hosted the 17th annual Teen Health Fair at Turner Ashby and Spotswood High schools. The purpose of the health fair is to provide local high school students with objective and accurate health information.  Representatives from over twenty five local youth-serving and health agencies were present providing high school students with important information regarding what is available to them in the community; information that will give them the tools they need to make the most beneficial health decisions for themselves. The participating vendors represented a number of different health services including: health information, diagnostic services, therapeutic services, and support services.  It was a successful two-day event with a lot of positive feedback from students, teachers, and vendors alike. A big thank you to all of our vendors and volunteers for taking time out of your busy schedules to help make the fair a success!

We also thank our kind sponsors: Aramark, Jimmy Johns, Dominos Pizza, Salad Creations, Mr. J’s Bagels, Cargill, CCAA, Golds Gym, and Boston Beanery

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