By Victoria Espinoza
Beneath the sunny rays in Smithtown’s Blydenburgh County Park June 29, Suffolk County Legislator and Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) announced a new program to celebrate Suffolk’s youth community.
The Distinguished Youth Award program is meant to promote and recognize the achievements and initiatives in service of Suffolk County’s youngest contributing members.
The program is open to county residents between the ages of 13 and 18, and registrants will work with local officials throughout the course of a year to lay out plans and goals that touch on volunteerism, personal development, exploration of Suffolk County, and physical fitness.
Gregory announced the program alongside young residents who have already registered, and with colleague, Suffolk County Legislator Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset).
“Suffolk County is lucky to be home to so many wonderful young people who have distinguished themselves in many ways.”
— William Spencer
“The goal in establishing this program is to encourage young people to become well-rounded and engaged in local issues and initiatives,” Gregory said. “Our young people are our future. This program is one way to build a foundation on which these young adults can continue to develop a connection to their communities, to understand their needs, and to explore solutions. We are encouraging them to be leaders whose roots are firmly planted in Suffolk County.”
According to Gregory’s office, the program is modeled after the Congressional Youth Leadership Council, and challenges participants to take part in two or more program categories: volunteer service, personal development, exploration of Suffolk County parks, and physical fitness. Medals will be awarded to participants based on the number of categories in which they engage as part of their individual challenge. The bronze medal will be awarded to teens that successfully complete two of the four program areas. The silver medal will be awarded to participants who complete three of the four program areas. The gold medal, which signifies the highest achievement, will recognize participants who complete their established goals in all four program areas.
Fellow legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) co-sponsored the resolution.
“Suffolk County is lucky to be the home to so many wonderful young people who have distinguished themselves in many ways,” Spencer said in a statement. “It will be a great honor to recognize them individually.”
Kennedy echoed the sentiments.
“In Suffolk County we have many accomplished young men and women,” she said at the event. “The Distinguished Youth Award will foster an environment where our youth will continue to accomplish great things, and grow into civically minded adults.”
Registration forms are available online on the Suffolk County Legislature’s Distinguished Youth Award program’s web page at legis.suffolkcountyny.gov/DYA.html. They can also be mailed to Suffolk County Legislature Distinguished Youth Award, Office of the Presiding Officer, Suffolk County Legislature, P.O. Box 6100 – Bldg. 20, Hauppauge, NY 11788-0099.