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USM, City of Hattiesburg partnership to benefit young adults

Following high school, some young adults go to college, while an equal number go to work. Other young people, particularly those with disabilities or who are racially and economically diverse, may not find their path to adulthood so easily.

The STEP UP to Leadership Council at The University of Southern Mississippi Institute for Disability Studies (IDS) is an inclusive leadership and transition program for youth with and without disabilities. The City of Hattiesburg Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council (MYLC) targets diverse high school-aged Hattiesburg youth.

In partnership, through a year-long planning grant funded by the Administration for Community Living at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and awarded to
IDS Executive Director, Dr. Beth Bryant, the STEP Up Council and MYLC will work to develop a diverse, inclusive community programming youth training program. Activities for this program will include a community needs assessment, focus groups and community forums.

“This planning grant allows us to solidify the strong relationship that IDS has with the City of Hattiesburg, with our overlapping missions of positively impacting the lives of our citizens,” said Dr. Bryant. “We are excited to have the opportunity to identify the needs of our community and develop sustainable methods to cooperatively address these needs going forward, while also helping these two groups of youth and young adults understand and grow in their appreciation of diversity of all kinds.”

“For many youth, the transition to adulthood is challenging, but more so for individuals combating a disability,” said Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree. “This grant presents an opportunity to give all young adults a voice and to learn if the current resources and services offered within the community have proven beneficial to them, as well as, gain feedback from them on the type of services they would like to see in the future.”

“The City and USM have developed a strong track record in our mission to enhance the lives of every individual in our community whether it’s helping them to acquire adequate healthcare or become financially stable. This grant not only strengthens an already-strong partnership, it affords us a chance to provide leadership training and promote civic engagement to help youth understand the responsibilities of adulthood and become confident adults and leaders within the community,” DuPree said.

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