Come Saturday night, the Barton County Courthouse Square in downtown Great Bend will be rocking with the first-ever All about U (Teen night on the Square). Sponsored by the Barton County Health Department and 20th Judicial District Juvenile Services, teens from across the county are invited to take part, Health Director Shelly Schneider said.
The event for those 13-18 years old will run from 7-11 p.m. Saturday. Planned activities include a DJ, giveaways, food trucks with free food, free T-shirts and more.
This Monday morning, the County Commission approved spending up to $5,000 in Health Department Maternal and Child Health Grant money for the program.
“We want to engage more youth in a meaningful way,” Schneider said. “This will be stigma-free, safe place for our kids.”
At the same time, they want the event to be visible so the entire community can see teens in a more positive light. Chaperones for the night will be staff from sponsoring departments and parents.
Agencies that deal with the myriad crisis teens face, such as Juvenile Services, will also be present, Schneider said. They will have information available.
She said they want to help kids prepare themselves, avoid the temptations of youth and become more resilient.
Although there will not be an official law enforcement presence, Schneider said officers are welcome to attend. “We want to help reduce the stigma of law enforcement.”
Getting the word out to young people is a challenge, she said. They are utilizing a mix of traditional and social media, flyers and talking with youth organizations.
“We are either going to fly or crash,” Schneider said. They have no idea how many kids will participate.
But, the event is capped at the $5,000. According to terms of the grant, any money not spent is left on the table.
“I think it sounds like a good plan,” said Commissioner Don Davis.