Franklin Township Youth Council Receives New Jersey Recreation & Parks Association Excellence in Recreation Programming Award

On Tuesday, March 7, 2017, Saffie Kallon, Program Coordinator for Franklin Recreation and the Franklin Township Youth Council accepted the Daniel M. Gasalberti Excellence in Recreation Programming Award from the New Jersey Recreation & Parks Association (NJRPA) for the Franklin Township Youth Council (FTYC).  Attended by industry professionals from throughout the state of New Jersey, the NJRPA annual awards dinner recognizes outstanding recreation and park agencies for excellence in programming and park design. They also honor dedicated professionals and leaders in parks, recreation, conservation, and leisure services who have provided exceptional achievement and service to the recreation field.

The Franklin Township Youth Council, a community service youth group under the auspices of the Recreation Department,  is a volunteer community service organization staffed and governed by youth, ages 12-18, based in Franklin Township, NJ (Somerset County). The Youth Council's goal is to develop and support community youth and charitable projects through its various committees. This year alone, FTYC has spearheaded half a dozen events for Franklin Township youth. This season’s programs celebrated the world's diversity with hands on art and music activities in Create Your World. They allowed participants to explore the world of science with Mad Scientists! and Charged Up. They empowered young women with Operation: Beautiful. They taught children about the differences that make us unique with All Around the Board. Last, but not least, challenged kids to save the President in The Great Escape.

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“Of all the work I’ve done in recreation in my life, I’m proudest of this organization,” Kallon said during her acceptance speech at the NJRPA ceremony. “The work ethic of these young people is truly amazing.”

FTYC has six different committees-Diversity, Education, Environmental, Health & Wellness, Therapeutic, and Youth & Community. Each of these committees has two committee heads that must go through a training which covers peer leadership, problem solving, project/event planning from idea to fruition, conflict resolution, and working with children. Taking a unique stance on hands on leadership training, members create events and programs that are in line with their committee mission, design event advertising, book venues, and cultivate relationships with potential program partners (school administration, other clubs and organizations, etc.). In addition to developing community programming, members participate in local events and programs as volunteers in order to improve and strengthen their community through service.

The application process for the program is rather rigorous, with a formal written application followed by a 2-month provisional period. The Youth Council program currently stands at 64 youth with another 24 applicants pending.  Applications for the program are accepted in the fall.