North Star Youth Partnership Celebrating 25 Years of Empowering Local Teens
By Bethany Durham
Since 1997, North Star Youth Partnership, a program of Catholic Charities, has engaged youth through educational, recreational, leadership, and service-learning opportunities in Prescott and the surrounding communities. Although the program began as a community coalition aimed at reducing teen pregnancy, it has grown to include a more diverse youth development approach. Rather than solely concentrating on the issues plaguing today’s youth, North Star strives to nurture youth’s potential through programs that build self-confidence, empower them to make healthy choices, and create positive changes in their community.
Under the leadership of Senior Program Manager Diane DeLong since the program inception, North Star has expanded its programming to include Maricopa County. North Star led efforts for Girls & Sports Day in 2002 and Teen Maze in 1999, and both community events continue today. Some of North Star’s most recognizable programs include Teens’ Closet, Peer Assistance & Leadership (PAL), Girl Talk, Safe Sitter, Baby…Ready or Not, and the Priceless Prom Project.
“PAL helped normalize the new and hard feelings I was having,” said Tess Peterson-DePrekel, a former North Star student who is now a social worker in Nevada. “I remember being relieved and shocked that other people felt the same way. This program helped me learn how to hold myself accountable for my actions and empathize with others.”
North Star works in partnership with other youth service providers to build upon strengths and avoid duplication of services. Some of the area partnerships include the Prescott YMCA, Yavapai County Community Health Services, Matforce, Yavapai College Honors, Prescott Unified School District, area schools, and service clubs.
Through North Star’s many programs, communities also benefit from yearly community service projects that focus on veterans, the elderly, those with special needs, foster care, and homeless populations. Throughout the past 25 years, North Star and its staff have received several honors, recognitions, and awards.
“As I reflect on North Star’s 25th Anniversary, I truly am in awe of the support we have received in Prescott and the surrounding communities throughout the years,” Diane said. “We have delivered over 30 different programs, numerous special events, and awareness campaigns for antibullying, teen pregnancy prevention, HIV/AIDS, and dangers of social media. Our students have gone on to achieve success in their education and chosen careers. So many of them give North Star credit for creating a pathway for them. Our staff includes dedicated professionals, and I am grateful to each of them and all our community and state partners who share in our success.”
For more information on North Star Youth partnership, contact DeLong at 928.708.7214 or [email protected] and connect through Facebook and Instagram or at northstaryouth.org.