COLUMBIA - America's Promise Alliance and ING have named Columbia as one of the nation's 100 Best Communities for youth. The Alliance was created in 1997 in hopes that America would begin focusing more on the well-being of its youth.
Ryan Worley is the coordinator for Columbia's Youth Community Coalition, which submitted an application for the contest based on the city's community programs. He said, "It raises awareness about all of the great things that exist in Columbia and I hope that the community realizes that and sees just what a special place Columbia is and that our young people here are really valuable to us. We make them a priority."
Cities are chosen based on criteria America's Promise Alliance calls the "Five Promises." These promises include caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education, and opportunities to help others. The Alliance believes the criteria helps kids succeed academically and socially. It also believe the youth are more likely to avoid violence and are more likely to contribute to the community positively with the criteria.
This is the second year in a row Columbia has been on the list, which first awarded cities in 2005. Worley said the term "youth" applies to kids from birth to college students. He also said he hopes this will urge members of the community to volunteer and donate their time to continue helping Columbia's youth in the future.
There will be a celebration in honor of the award Wednesday afternoon at 4:30.