Office on Youth

In 2005 under the leadership of Mayor Pro Tempore Cora Cole-McFadden, the Durham City Council developed a platform for municipal action and leadership on behalf of Durham's youth, The Durham Youth Commission was created to actively involve youth in policy issues affecting youth, broaden the scope of youth leadership in Durham affairs, promote experimental learning on the functions of government, develop good civic leadership for the future of the community and most importantly, to promote public awareness of the strengths and abilities of youth.

Further study determined that a department needed to be developed. The Office On Youth was created to provide direction on youth initiatives in Durham. The office utilizes grants to address concerns of the city’s youth and partners with other organizations to share resources and enhance existing services and programs for youth. The Durham Youth Commission is a component of the Office on Youth at the Durham Teen Center. A strategic plan is being developed to outline other programs and initiatives for ages 14-21 to equip themselves with the tools necessary to become stakeholders in the city and in their communities.

Major Office of Youth Programs
Durham Youth Commission
The commission is a city-funded group of 30 students in grades 9-12. The DYC is a selected group of 30 high school-aged youth with a commitment towards representing the ideas and opinions of their peers. These youth act as an advisory board to the City Council and other groups and have an active role in shaping and influencing local policies and programs.

The DYC is an opportunity for youth to have a formal role in the city’s planning and decision making process. Members are taught civic engagement and parliamentary procedure, attend conferences around the state to collaborate and learn from other youth councils and participate in various service learning initiatives.

Durham Teen Center
The center provides teens ages 13-19 with a positive alternative during non school hours. The purpose of the center is to reduce community violence through prevention by assisting youth in finding alternatives to gangs and getting them involved in programs that equip them with life management skills. Participants receive counseling/mentoring in the areas of academics, conflict resolution, violence prevention and acquiring job skills.

The goal is to assist youth with developing a sense of self-worth along with providing knowledge and skills necessary to give a sense of purpose and direction needed to lead satisfying, socially constructive lives. The program employs these basic strategies:
  • Discussion groups
  • Involvement in structured, fun activities
  • Role playing
  • Values clarification
These activities promote peer-group interaction. The Teen Center encourages youth to freely express themselves, transcend personal boundaries, learn the value of service to their community and develop assets that foster healthy and meaningful lives. Workshops on youth specific issues as well as self-directed activities are provided. Partnerships between local governmental and non-profit organizations allow the Teen Center to provide no cost programs and special events to Durham’s youth.