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Students focus on mindfulness during Herkimer County Youth Summit

Nov. 7, 2019

Four student master facilitators from Youth Summit pose for a photo

The 2019 Herkimer County Youth Summit Quad-Master Facilitators pose for a photo following the summit on Thursday, Oct. 31, at the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer. From left: Central Valley senior Daniel Paddock, Frankfort-Schuyler seniors Sofia Randazzo and Sicilia Randazzo and Herkimer senior Joseph Carney.

HERKIMER – The 2019 Herkimer County Youth Summit at Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES focused on a new theme for the year: “Motivate your mind.”

Following various activities throughout the day, students teamed back up with others from their schools to develop action plans for events and initiatives to do at their schools.

Herkimer senior Joseph Carney, who was one of four student master facilitators for the 2019 Youth Summit and sole master facilitator the previous two years, encouraged students to follow up on plans made for their schools.

“One thing you can take away from today is: This is an opportunity for you to learn and develop an action plan to bring back to your school,” Carney said, near the end of the Youth Summit. “We can talk the talk, but we need to – as a whole – walk the walk. At least do something. At the end of the day, if everybody does something, it starts a chain reaction.”

The 2019 Herkimer County Youth Summit took place on Thursday, Oct 31, at the Herkimer BOCES William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer. Students from the Central Valley, Dolgeville, Frankfort-Schuyler, Herkimer, Little Falls, Mount Markham, Owen D. Young, Poland and West Canada Valley participated in the Youth Summit – along with students from the Herkimer BOCES Pathways Academy at Remington and Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School.

The Quad-Master Facilitators were Carney, Central Valley senior Daniel Paddock and Frankfort-Schuyler seniors Sicilia and Sofia Randazzo.

Maureen Petrie, executive director of Catholic Charities of Herkimer County, served as the Youth Summit coordinator. Catholic Charities of Herkimer County facilitated the Youth Summit along with Little Falls Superintendent Dr. Keith Levatino and Herkimer BOCES. The keynote speaker was Jen Olds, a fourth-grade teacher at Herkimer Elementary School who spoke about mindfulness.

Petrie thanked Herkimer BOCES District Superintendent Sandra Sherwood, Herkimer BOCES District Clerk Shawn Maxson, Levatino, Olds and the staff at Catholic Charities for their support of the Youth Summit.

“The 2019 Herkimer County Youth Summit was a great success,” Petrie said. “The student facilitators – Joseph Carney, Daniel Paddock and Sicilia Randazzo and Sofia Randazzo – brought the theme of ‘Motivate Your Mind’ to Herkimer County youth in an exciting and interesting way. All of the planning for the day – including the break-out sessions of mindfulness, motivation and stress management were planned and presented to the students by the youth facilitators, and the youth responded. Students will take their action plans back to their schools to share and create change and awareness.”

In addition to hearing from the keynote speaker and developing school action plans, students participated in various activities and rotated through three stations: lessons from the keynote speech, stress management and motivation/finding balance/time management.

Carney said it was determined that stress is a common issue for many students, so the theme of “Motivate Your Mind” was chosen with a goal of providing help with lowering and getting rid of stress.

Mindfulness was an important topic to focus on, all the student facilitators agreed.

“I really think that everyone enjoyed it – especially the keynote speaker,” Sofia Randazzo said. “I think she was very impactful.”

Sicilia Randazzo said she also took a lot away from the keynote speech.

“The most important thing is to observe your thoughts,” Sicilia Randazzo said, noting that the speech by Olds helped her think about the importance of staying in the moment. “I hope other students felt the same way.”

Paddock said the Youth Summit went great, and one reason for that is because the students who attend do so as their choice.

“The people that come here are the leaders,” Paddock said. “They’re here so they can have fun, but also learn something and bring it back to their schools – especially something so important.”

Students had a great time at the Youth Summit, and they were more engaged in the topic because of that, Carney said.

“I think today we had the best Youth Summit we’ve had,” he said.

Carney also further commented about his message to students near the end of Youth Summit about putting their action plans into effect at their schools.

“I think it’s very important that we take things back to our schools,” he said. “If we don’t follow through, no changes will be made.”

Following three years as a master facilitator at Youth Summit, Carney said maybe he will try to stay involved somehow in the future.

“I’ll definitely miss Youth Summit,” he said.

Student participating in a "hype up" activity during Youth Summit

A group of students Summit leads a “hype up” activity for the other students in attendance at the 2019 Herkimer County Youth Summit on Thursday, Oct. 31, at the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer.

Large group of students watching Youth Summit presentation

Students from local school districts look on during a presentation at the 2019 Herkimer County Youth Summit on Thursday, Oct. 31, at the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer.