Platte County, Missouri

Platte County’s community-wide commitment to the well-being of its youth makes it stand apart.  Nearly 75 percent of its students enroll in out-of-school programs and activities, due to the abundance of opportunities made available and the commitment to funding to ensure the presence of quality staff. In January of 2010, Platte County was named the healthiest county in the state of Missouri, as supported by the financial and philosophical commitment by local leaders to provide community centers, parks and trails that promote health and well-being. Platte County organizations from numerous sectors, both public and private, are all committed to the total well-being of their youth.

The Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce holds an elite Youth Leadership program that helps students understand Platte County and how their lives are intertwined with the community. The process gives insight into the business, legal, educational, political and healthcare elements of the community. In the past five years, nearly $15 million has been spent towards the construction of two community centers in Platte County through a dedicated 1/2 cent sales tax approved by the residents of the county. Between the dedicated youth space of our centers, the gymnasiums, aquatics arena and wellness floor, more than 2,000 youth per week visit these centers and take part in programs designed to serve the needs of youth.

The community centers are a collaboration between the county and the YMCA of Greater Kansas City. In addition to attracting 2,000 youth each week, 5,000 youth enroll in its youth sports, aquatics, kids’ night out and other health and wellness related activities. The Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce Youth Leadership program would not be successful without the support and collaboration of its Chamber members. Once a month students take part in leadership development programs tailored to young adults, which are sponsored by area businesses and organizations who are Chamber members and supporters. Platte County also hosts an extremely active Girl Scouts program with more then 1,200 participants. The Girl Scouts have partnered with nursing homes, assisted living centers, the YMCA, fire stations, local ambulance districts and the police station on an assortment of programs.

The YouthFriends school-based mentoring program provides students in Park Hill and Platte County school districts with caring adults who meet with them weekly for an hour. A recent science-based evaluation conducted by the Community Systems Research Group revealed that YouthFriends students scored significantly higher than controls on sense of school connectedness - a critical factor impacting staying in school, participation and achievement. When students with an initial GPA below 2.0 were examined, YouthFriends students demonstrated significant improvement in academic performance from Year One to Year Two that was not evident in non-YouthFriends students. Comparisons of YouthFriends students’ pre- and post-test scores showed a significant improvement in community connectedness, indicating a higher degree of social responsibility at year-end.

The Park Hill School District provides a variety of options for families to keep children occupied after school. In addition to significant opportunities in traditional areas like high-school sports, there are clubs from elementary through high school that engages students. Activities include reading clubs, intramurals and high-school service clubs. Students raise money for charities, get physically fit and enrich their academics through these programs. The Platte County school district’s SOS program is an example of solutions to provide safe places and out-of-school activities. In 2006, the District received a grant to run an after-school, academic support program from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The program's objectives are to assist students with their homework and to enrich students' lives with an assortment of problem-solving and teamwork activities.