Aberdeen, South Dakota
Aberdeen offers a variety of educational and co-curricular opportunities for youth in both private and public schools. Community support also is strong among groups such as the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, parks and recreation facilities, and the Youth Adult Partnership Association. Wylie Park, free storybook land, Water Park, Aberdeen Community Theatre, and other groups create an exciting environment for the community’s youth.
The New Beginnings Center provides care, supervision and treatment for at- risk youth between ages 10 and 18. These youth experience difficulty in family, community, or school situations and are victims of abuse or have mental or emotional health difficulties. In the same manner, Northeastern Mental Health has an Almost Home Program that is a unique transitional living program serving youth ages 13-21 who are in need of independent living skill development, social support, and supervision in a home setting. Safe Harbor offers Kids Konnection, a neutral and safe place for divorced or separated parents and guardians to exchange children with one another. Kids Konnection advocates for a child's right to establish and maintain positive interactions with significant adults in his or her life.
The community formed a task force called Activate Aberdeen to tackle Childhood obesity. Efforts from the Aberdeen Family YMCA, Avera St. Luke’s and other organizations incorporated a weight re-education program that emphasizes aquatic therapy. Thirty children participated in swim practice at the local YMCA after- school three days a week, and were provided with a nutritious snack. Body mass and blood panels, self -perception and happiness were all monitored during the duration of the study. Activate Aberdeen also provided activities, programs, educational materials and encouraged creative implementation of different contests to the local organizations that work directly with youth. Information was also provided to local employers to educate the parents on healthy lifestyles, diet, healthy habits, and community activities.
Aberdeen students must all complete a “Future Story,” or personal lifetime education plan, before graduating high school. High school students are also assigned a personal advocate who works with them in their four years of high school. Duties of the advocate include monitoring the student’s academic progress, setting up tutoring as necessary, and fulfilling other similar duties. Advocates make scheduling recommendations, to ensure a student is taking appropriately challenging coursework, in which four years of math and science are highly encouraged. The advocate has a small number of students, allowing time and ability to give each student the personalized attention needed. Students may also participate in a popular and unique "Rising Scholars" program, which allows them to take college courses at local universities and at highly reduced tuition rates thanks to various foundations. A high percentage of students elect to participate in a job mentorship program that takes place every school day for a full term.