Lakewood and Pierce County have been named one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People, as chosen by America’s Promise Alliance.
At a Sept. 26 press conference, Molly Thompson of Fircrest summed up why she felt Lakewood and Pierce County deserved the recognition. “Resources. That’s why Pierce County (and Lakewood) is such a great place for young people.”
Thompson (pictured), a sophomore at the School of the Arts and a Fircrest resident, submitted a letter as part of the Lakewood/Pierce County application for the competition.
America’s Promise founding chairman General Colin Powell launched the competition in May and Pierce County/Lakewood applied for a place on the list. Seven hundred applications were submitted.
Winners were chosen by a panel of civic, business and nonprofit leaders, including United Way of America President Brian Gallagher, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue, former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, baseball great Cal Ripken Jr. and former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb.
"One of the most important things that people in any society can do is to make sure that they are taking care of the future of their children. This award shows that Lakewood/Pierce County is among the best in the nation at doing this," said Pierce County Executive John W. Ladenburg. "It’s another reason that Pierce County is one of the most livable places in the nation."
"Lakewood is honored to be recognized as one of the 100 Best Communities for Children. Our city will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year, and this award symbolizes how far we’ve come in providing for our youth. Lakewood is dedicated to helping the next generation be the best that it can be," said Deputy Mayor Helen McGovern.
Claudia Thomas, Lakewood City Councilmember, pointed out that the city dedicates 1 percent of its general fund to youth services.
Helen Myrick, chair of the Pierce County Promise Committee, said the recognition affirms local efforts to bring together resources intentionally designed to help youth achieve success. "This is a great opportunity to let the kids know that their success is important to the adult community and to draw even more young people to those resources," she said.
Louisa Erickson, executive director of the Alliance for Youth of Pierce County, said 10 years of work by many individuals and organizations preceded the Best 100 recognition. "We are now seeing the result of prevention efforts and how layers of services and cross-sector collaboration are making a difference. Hopefully this recognition will serve to sustain momentum while igniting an even greater level of commitment within the community to ensure that our youth grow to adulthood with character and competence."
The selection panel evaluated 100 Best entries that included information about each community’s efforts to fulfill five essential promises critical to the well-being of young people: Caring adults who are actively involved in their lives; safe places in which to learn and grow; a healthy start toward adulthood; an effective education that builds marketable skills; and opportunities to help others.
To honor the 100 Best communities selected, the America’s Promise Alliance will hold a special event Nov. 2 in Washington, D.C. This celebration will be dedicated to the children affected by Hurricane Katrina, highlighting outstanding community initiatives across the country that are providing displaced children with the services and support that they need to thrive no matter where they are. All proceeds from this event will go toward helping the children impacted by Katrina.
America’s Promise is a broad-based alliance whose members work together to ensure the well-being of children and youth Founded by retired General Colin L. Powell in 1997, the America’s Promise Alliance includes nonprofit, corporate and community groups as well as individuals across the nation.