Samantha Sonnich, Community Health Promotion Specialist, County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency
Students in the City of Carlsbad are saying YES to programs that support their success and the needs of their community. Through the Carlsbad YES (Youth Enrichment Services) Collaborative, Carlsbad Unified School District administration, staff, students, parents and community organizations and agencies meet monthly to network and share resources with the goal of supporting student health, safety and wellbeing. They recently celebrated their 25th anniversary with a special gathering in which they received a proclamation from the mayor of the City of Carlsbad recognizing their efforts over the years.
For the past 15 years, the YES Collaborative has been spearheaded by Rosemary Eshelman, Student Services Specialist with Carlsbad Unified School District. Her dedication to the group has helped it grow to an average attendance of 40 to 50 members per meeting resulting in over 100 unduplicated participants in 2019 alone.
“YES is the single most effective community collaborative meeting I attend that effectively connects community, schools, and youth in a supportive and enriching environment that extends well beyond the monthly meetings and classroom, into the Carlsbad community and beyond,” shared Margaret Hamer, Recreation Area Manager for the City of Carlsbad and active member of the YES collaborative.
A major result of the collaborative are the ongoing partnerships Carlsbad Unified School District has developed with community organizations to support student success, including the City of Carlsbad, Vista Community Clinic, and Interfaith Community Services. For example, Interfaith Community Services partners with Carlsbad High School to run the Transitional Youth Academy which allows high school seniors to obtain class credits for offsite work experiences. A recent Live Well San Diego news story about the Academy features a high school student named Esperanza who shares how the program accelerated her skills, grades and self-esteem to help her reach her goals.
Several innovative intergenerational activities are also a product of the YES collaborative. A partnership with New Village Arts resulted in Verbatim Theatre, a documentary theater project in which Carlsbad Unified School District students reenact real-life stories shared by older adults from the Carlsbad community. Another activity is Tech Talk with Teens, in which students are paired with older adults to assist them with using smart devices to connect with others.
Another partnership developed through the YES collaborative will bring the Carlsbad Unified School District together with the County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency - North Regions to provide a Campus Community Connect event in March 2020. The event will create an opportunity for district staff to network and connect directly with HHSA departments and other community organizations that can help support the needs of students and families.
It takes a village to support students, and the YES Collaborative has created this village by bridging the gap between needs and services and providing a platform for collective impact in action.