Taryn Murphy, Program Officer,
Community Youth Development
The Turner Community Youth Development Initiative (TCYDI) was initiated in 1997 with the intent to recognize the important role young people play in building healthy communities by supporting programs and activities that provide the necessary skills and emotional support youth need to lead healthy lives and follow their dreams. “Youth Development” was chosen as the focus of the initiative, because it encompasses a variety of issues, from skills development to community service. Grants are provided to priority communities for developmental programs that help young people reach their full potential and become and remain valued citizens in their communities. Activities include community service, after school programming, leadership training, entrepreneurship, health and athletics and job readiness.
Located nearly 50 miles from the closest movie theater, an ambitious Turner Youth Advisory Council decided to resurrect a main street theater built in the 1940’s that had been boarded up for decades. The decision to tackle this project came after a survey of young people in the community revealed they wanted more positive social outlets. After negotiating with the owner of the building to lease for the space for $1 a month, the youth group was able to leverage funds and in-kind support from its Turner Foundation grant to fully restore the theater. It took the group almost four years and over 2,000 hours of donated manpower to complete the renovation. Now the theater provides a safe hangout where teens, families and community members can gather to enjoy movies. The Turner Youth Advisory Council is responsible for operating the movie equipment, selecting the movies and collecting donations at the door.
BOB, the Mobile Greenhouse, began as an inspiration from a group of young people who were excited by the idea of older kids helping younger kids learn about growing their own food. The Turner Youth Initiative in this community used grant monies to convert an old school bus into a mobile green house to be used as a traveling educational exhibit with high school and college age students teaching workshops and facilitating hands-on learning activities with elementary and middle school students including lessons on nutrition, sustainable agriculture, and environmental education. In addition to learning stations on and off the bus, BOB is now involved in providing support and materials for local school gardens and outdoor learning classrooms, helping to establish green curriculums in schools, and community outreach in surrounding neighborhoods.