Tats are forever
While "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" was a hit film, and personal expression by permanent body art has never been more prevalent, officials working with the WIA Youth Program are asking local youth to take a moment and consider the consequences before springing for that visible neck tat.
To spread their message, Utah officials at the Department of Workforce Services working through the Workforce Investment Act will be hosting a youth leadership conference focusing on the importance of the present.
"This year our theme is, choices today affect your future tomorrow," explained program organizer Peggy Killiam, who also serves as the Eastern Region Program Specialist for DWS. "The conference will direct that message toward employment opportunities for youth here in the Castle Valley."
The conference, which will be held on Saturday, April 21 at USU Eastern, will encompass the resources of many state and local organizations including the Department of Child and Family Services, the Carbon School District, the 7th Judicial District Juvenile Court, Four Corners Behavioral Health, the Castle Country Juvenile Justice Center and Vocational Rehabilitation.
"DWS puts together a leadership project every year," said Killiam while discussing just how the conference came to be. "Last year a brochure was created by WIA Youth with future employment content and the kids we were working with decided to build on that information."
On a federal level, workforce investment act funds are used to prepare youth for the 21st century workforce. State officials such as Killiam then coordinate youth workforce development investments. The investment act, established in 1998 was originally a formula-funded youth program which served only eligible low-income youth, ages 14-21, who face barriers to employment. Since that time, funds for youth services have been allocated to state and local programs where initiatives such as the upcoming leadership conference are born.
"This program has been very successful for us because it is set up with the youth in mind," continued Killiam. "We don't want to be judgmental, we want to be inclusive and informative. In that spirit, it is important for everybody to know that this conference is open to all youth in the Castle Valley."
One of the major partners to this year's program is the TAL or Transition to Adult Living. Those working with TAL are paid by the Department of Children and Families to assist local youth who have been incarcerated to get on their feet and learn to live independently.
"We focus on skills like finding an apartment and learning to deal with utilities and the phone company, basic things like that," said TAL Coordinator Sean Sasser. "Programs like this conference are a big help to us, because they teach young people that their ability to obtain gainful employment is vital to their future. It's hard to get your own apartment if you can't get a job because of your multiple facial piercings."
According to Sasser, many kids think that any trouble they get into as a teen will be somehow magically erased when they hit 18. This is not the case.
"Youth tell me all the time, what's the big deal if I get into a little trouble as a kid?" quipped Sasser. "What they don't realize is that if they get messed up in something like a DUI, it could go on their driving record for some time and effect their ability to get any type of job which would require them to operate a vehicle. This is the type of information that we are hoping to stress at the conference."
As if problems with self expression and the legal system weren't enough for a young person to consider, Sasser and his partner Kelle Shearer, who is also involved with the event, commented on new dangers which have cropped up concerning social media.
"Most kids have no idea that the things they put on the web are permanent," said Shearer. "They don't understand that if they post about doing something illegal, the police can use that as evidence to arrest them. They don't understand that bosses are now checking facebook as a reference."
While there seems to be a plethora of quicksand and boobie traps which today's youth are overlooking, they do at least seem eager to learn. According to Killiam, it was young people who came up with the idea of growing this conference and improving their own vocational future.
"Kids want to have a good job and a full life, which this conference we are hoping to make sure they don't do anything as a young person which would jeopardize that," said Killiam.
In addition to the Castle Valley event at USU Eastern, events will also be taking place in the Uintah Basin and in Moab. For more information check out DWS online at jobs.utah.gov.