The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 1, 2013

Summit to start community conversation about young people

By Amanda Dyslin
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — Bonnie Stanton and others behind Youth Voice and the YWCA have been busy at work this past year meeting with area youth, getting feedback on what it’s like growing up in Greater Mankato.

On Feb. 11, they will hold the first Community Summit on Youth, inviting everyone to learn about their efforts as well as start a community conversation about youth.

“The purpose is to provide information to people about the status of youth in the Greater Mankato community, but also just to have everybody come to the table,” said Stanton, community organizer of the YWCA. “We’re all stakeholders in the future of youth development in our community.”

Mankato Area Healthy Youth was an organization in the Mankato area for about 15 years that was dedicated to the same efforts as Youth Voice. Due to the economic decline, many agencies were no longer able to support MAHY and the organization dissipated, Stanton said.

“Youth Voice rose up to take the place of Mankato Area Healthy Youth,” Stanton said.

The organization received $75,000 in funding for its first year from the Otto Bremer Foundation and $125,000 for each of two subsequent years.

“Our big goal was to make Greater Mankato the very best place for youth to grow up and live,” Stanton said. “With that goal in place, we put together the Youth Voice project.”

The group has been conducting Youth Voice sessions through schools, clubs and organizations where they conduct listening sessions with groups of kids to brainstorm ideas. Youth are asked: What activities do they enjoy, and where do they like to hang out? What places do they avoid? What places in the area already make the Mankato area a cool place to live? What activities and places does the area need to make it a great place? And what can youth do to bolster that effort?

The results of these sessions will be shared at the Youth Summit, as will the results of research conducted regarding youth by Minnesota State University professors.

Parents, youth (ages 12 to 24), members of the business community and the public are welcome to attend the summit. In addition to informational presentations, there will be small-group conversations and youth performances.

“We are inviting everybody,” Stanton said. “We hope the community will really come together, get really fired up and enthusiastic.”


If you go


Community Summit on Youth


6-9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11

Registration begins at 5 p.m.


Verizon Wireless Center


Free and open to the public.


345-4629 or