Governor's Hometown Award
On Tuesday, November 27, 2007 the Hoopeston Mayor’s Youth Council was recognized at the Governor’s Hometown Awards Banquet for the Youth Town Hall “Country Boys” Project which began in 2005. The Mayor’s Youth Council received first place in the Youth Involvement Category for communities in the population bracket 5,901 – 10,000. The Mayor’s Youth Council was also one of 8 Governor’s Cup Finalists from all population categories chosen from the forty awarded projects. This recognition is a tremendous honor for Hoopeston.
In 2005, a documentary aired entitled “Country Boys.” The story of two high school boys struggling for identity and opportunity in a small, poverty-stricken town in Kentucky directly paralleled the environment in Hoopeston. The documentary was viewed as a tool to teach at-risk youth, and a partnership was formed between WILL (who aired the documentary), the City of Hoopeston, and the Hoopeston School District. The goal of the Youth Town Hall Project was to identify youth struggles and give teens a chance to voice their concerns. Adult leaders met regularly for one year to identify solutions. Hoopeston youth were directly involved in planning and leading the initiative, giving them a sense of belonging to the community. Surveys conducted by 13 youth brought light to issues such as unemployment, drugs, and alcohol. A one-on-one mentoring program created as a result of the youths’ excitement helps keep young people in school, improve their grades, and decrease the use of drugs and alcohol. The mayor’s youth council and the Overtime youth center held at the Multi-Agency were also outcomes of the Youth Town Hall initiative. The Town Hall initiative has had a long term impact on the community. The youth of Hoopeston have a voice and work to better their community and themselves for the first time.
This project was made possible due to the partnership of Prairie Center Health Systems and WILL AM-FM-TV at the University of Illinois. The Hoopeston youth worked hard to get this project started and to sustain this project.