Orange County, New York
- Community name: Orange County
- Website: http://www.co.orange.ny.us/
- Population: 373,355
- Graduation rate: 86.9%
- Youth poverty rate: 16.4%
Orange County, a third-time 100 Best winner, was again honored for its commitment to young people and programs designed to create a safe community and provide leadership opportunities for youth. To help curb bullying in schools, seven school districts have implemented the Safe School Ambassadors program, which trains and empowers youth to identify and remove conflict in their schools. In addition, youth, families, government officials and other community members created the Anti-Bully & Prevention Task Force in response to a surge in youth suicide attempts. A variety of programs also connect youth with positive adult mentors. The Town of Wallkill Police Youth Coalition allows youth to interact with police officers through community service and recreation activities. Also, the County Parenting Coalition works to support parents and caregivers by providing resources like parenting education classes, a resource hotline and information on community programs and support. The community works to empower Orange County youth through the Youth Bureau, which advocates for youth programs and services. Each year, adult leaders accompany as many as 50 young people to the state capital for Youth Legislative Lobbying Day to learn about the legislative process.
- The Orange County Youth Bureau works with nonprofits, youth, schools and community and county agencies to assess youth needs. The bureau advocates for youth and their families through innovative programs and services that promote health and positive youth development.
- The County Parenting Coalition provides services to parents in the community, including an annual Parenting Resource directory, free quarterly parenting education classes, a resource and referral hotline, and food and child care.
- The Safe School Ambassadors is a nationwide program that empowers students and equips them with nonviolent communication and intervention skills to stop bullying and violence among their peers. The program has been implemented in several school districts in Orange County.
- The Reconnecting Families Series are day-long events where parents and children attend workshops on a topic, listen to speakers and participate in fun activities such as karaoke, theater and Zumba. Recently the series hosted a summit with the theme, “Stop Bullying Now: Take a Stand, Lend a Hand.”
“Looking back on all of the experiences and opportunities I have had in Orange County throughout my life, I truly feel that I am prepared and ready to take on the future. Not only have I been encouraged by my teachers and parents to chase my dreams and work hard, but the people and businesses of my community have also encouraged me.”
“Thanks to my teachers, classmates, friends and family I no longer feel hopeless. Today I can’t help but feel proud of all my achievements and wait anxiously for the start of high school.”