Community YouthMapping in Lexington Park, Maryland
Lexington Park is a community within St Mary's County, in the tri-county southern tip of Maryland. Surrounded by the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, and formerly tobacco-growing country, the local economy is now dominated by the Patuxent River Naval Air Base.
A volunteer Steering Committee for a Community Center with a
strong youth focus is working to launch a Community YouthMapping
project this summer. In Lexington Park, young people, their families
and community leaders all agree: "There's nothing to do around here!"
Yet there is a sense of resources that are not being recognized or
utilized. While there are some youth programs in Lexington Park,
there is an issue of awareness. For example, the Tri-County Youth
Services Bureau’s (TCYSB) youth programs are underutilized in St.
Mary’s County while The Cove of Walden serves over 60 youth from
the Park annually with some outstanding services for youth with
substance use issues/exposure. And while the county government has
a strong Department of Recreation and Parks, and a very actively appreciated public library system, there is no organized focus on supporting young people outside of the school system.
For several months, the Steering Committee has worked to engage
the broader community in learning about the potential of Community YouthMapping (CYM), and lending support to make it happen. From the public school system to the local Public Honors College, St Mary’s College of Maryland (St Mary's College of Maryland), from clergy to the local NAACP, from the Community Development Corporation to County Commissioners, and from small businesses to The Patuxent Partnership, more and more institutions and leaders are recognizing the value of CYM in Lexington Park (and potentially elsewhere in the county).
The Steering Committee is now intently focused on fundraising, with the aim that youth mappers would begin their work by mid-June. The mappers' efforts will result in reliable data relating to young peoples' hopes and expectations, and to their health and livelihoods needs; information regarding used and under-utilized resources (both physical and human) that includes existing activities and opportunities. By the Fall, local leaders and members of the community will have ideas about how to link young people with resources. Meanwhile, the County government will gain critical information to support the planning process related to development of a Youth Community Center included in the County Improvement Plan for 2022.
In need of a fresh approach, the Steering Committee and partners are enthusiastic about the prospects for CYM in Lexington Park. For more information or how to participate, please contact the Steering Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.