Charles Godfrey, Extension Agent, in charge of Cleveland County's 4-H Youth Development, asked an interesting question recently, in a media release about an upcoming event scheduled for Oct. 22. In that release, Mr. Godfrey asked his intended audience, "Are young people in your life curious about social movements and how they are impacting us locally?"
To seek and try and lock down an answer to that question, Cleveland County 4-H - in collaboration with other community organizations and leaders - has organized a Community Conversation event Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at 6:30 p.m.
Said Godfrey, in his media release, "This event will be a space for youth to be curious and brave, as they process current events and the implications on their life and the lives of others.
"The target audience for this event is youth and families, but it is open to the general public. This is an online-only event. The event will be live streamed on YouTube and Facebook Live. Call as soon as possible at (704) 482-4365, or visit the Cleveland County 4H's web site for more information and details about how to join the event.
Godfrey stressed at the outset that the opinions expressed by individual panelists at the event are their own and do not reflect the opinions of the Cooperative Extension Service, 4-H, or other community organizations involved in organizing the event.
A list of the panelists participating will be provided closer to the event he noted.
Godfrey took a moment to answer some question for Community First Media and Shelby Shopper & Info about this event.
CF Media: What age range of students are we talking about here, and will they be "coached" by an adult or formulating the questions on their own and of their own creation?
Mr. Godfrey: Students from elementary, middle, and high school are welcome to submit questions. Students are welcome to submit a question on their own. We are also working with teachers and youth serving organizations to gather questions from students in their class or program. Parents can also submit questions that their child may have asked them at home. When submitting questions through our Google form (https://forms.gle/X3XtNSik- PU7LTHmc8), it is anonymous. We only ask for the school they attend and what grade they are in. We want the questions to come from the students so the panelist can address questions and concerns our students have.
CF Media: Is this a "first" for the local 4H folks and community leaders, or has something like this been done before. If "yes", then when, where, and with whom?
Mr. Godfrey: This type of event on this scale is a first for 4-H and other community leaders.
CF Media: If someone can't get on line to follow this, will it be posted for folks to look at later?
Mr. Godfrey: The video of the event will be posted for people to view after the event if they are unable to join the live stream.
CF Media: What steps are being taken, or will be taken, to ensure these Q&A's will be fair to all people and all races and genders? Please describe. If none have been considered/implemented, why not?
Mr. Godfrey: It is very important to those of us organizing the event that the Q&A will be fair to all people, races, and genders. There are two steps that we are taking to that end. First of all, all the questions that are submitted will be reviewed by the planning committee before they are asked at the event. Secondly, we will be meeting with all of the panelists prior to the event to discuss how the event will work. In that meeting prior to the event, we will discuss with them the importance of being fair to all people, races, and genders in their responses to questions.
CF Media: Will there be parameters set up in this virtual community discussion to make sure no group is targeted unfairly or is misrepresented (for example, the police, etc.)?
Mr. Godfrey: This again will be discussed in the meeting with the panelists prior to the event to ensure no group is unfairly targeted or misrepresented in the discussion. We are also working to ensure our panelists represent a variety of groups in our community. For example - law enforcement. We have had a member of law enforcement on the planning committee and asked a member of law enforcement to be one of our panelists.
CF Media: Will there be a clear definition of what constitutes "responsible civic engagement" for the panelists and students so there will be a clear and concise pathway to facilitate intelligent and constructive answers?
Mr. Godfrey: Yes, a clear definition of "responsible civic engagement" will be established with the panelists and students. We define responsible civic engagement as working to make a positive difference in one's community through developing the knowledge, skills, values and motivation needed to achieve that difference.
CF Media: Finally, what will, or can, be done to move the county forward after this Community Conversation is done? And, if successful, are there plans to keep having this event again, going forward?
Mr. Godfrey: We feel this event is a step that can be part of helping our county move forward. We hope this event will be a constructive discussion that encourages students and adults to continue having conversations about these issues. One of the keys to this event is bringing various leaders and organizations together. For the county to move forward, these collaborative efforts will need to continue. We hope to be able to have more Community Conversation panel events to further discuss the questions and issues on a deeper level. Also we hope to be able to facilitate further discussions in the high schools across the county so students can continue to share their questions and concerns while learning more about responsible civic engagement.
The Cleveland County 4H is located at 130 S. Post Rd., Suite 1, Shelby, NC, and it is open Monday through Friday. Please call (704) 482-4365 for hours of operation and, again, for more information on event such as this or visit their website at https://cleveland.ces. ncsu.edu/4-hclubsgroups/.