PACT Gets Dialogue Going Between Teens and Adults

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Thursday August 21, 2014

Parents and adults celebrating children and teens or PACT, as it is well known throughout the South Burlington community, presented its annual report to the city council August 18. Co-chairs Susie Merrick and Steve Loyer were present to give an overview of the volunteer organization and outline events for the upcoming school year.

PACT is a South Burlington non-profit organization with the vision of building and sustaining a community of respect, compassion, and equality. PACT hosts community dialogue nights, dinners, and an annual retreat where teens and adults have a chance to gather in a non-judgmental environment to discuss a variety of topics. The teens lead discussions on subjects ranging from daily challenges to the recent addition of the methadone clinic and concerns regarding drug and alcohol use. Loyer said, “One of the reasons we have the meals is to create an environment where dialogue can happen...this is a way to engage youth in a way that’s relevant to them.” In fact, many of the topics are proposed by the teens themselves. When former Big Picture program coordinator Jason Cushner initiated neighborhood learning conversations as part of his Rowland Fellowship last year, he asked PACT to participate. After running the idea by the teens, they decided to host a conversation on changes to high school graduation requirements. The results of the dialogue were given to high school principal Patrick Burke and will help inform a structure for academic changes at the high school.

PACT has a healthy budget funded by direct public support, and corporate, individual, and business contributions in addition to miscellaneous revenue. Their total income for July 2013 through June 2014 was 3,700 dollars. Their expenses, which include food, supplies, and liability insurance totaled 3,767 dollars, giving them a slight loss of 67 dollars for the year. In prior years, PACT has asked participants in dialogue nights to bring a dish to share, but decided to begin covering the cost themselves to allow a wider range of people to attend, even if they couldn’t bring food to share.

This year’s kick off retreat, which is free and open to public, will take place September 14 from 2-4:30 p.m. at All Souls Interfaith Gathering in Shelburne. New and returning members are welcome. If you are interested in attending, RSVP by calling Mariah Larkin at 238-1054. A bus will leave the high school at 1:30 p.m. for this retreat.

As one past teen participant said, “I think teenagers would be shocked to know there’s a group in South Burlington with the mission of listening to teens.”

For more information on PACT and this year’s schedule of events visit www.pactvt.com.

SOURCE: Corey BurdicK, Correspondent