Rogue Valley Mentoring gives youth opportunity to be heard

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. —After a difficult few years, a local non-profit is giving youth an opportunity to amplify their voices, and be heard in the community.

“Rogue Valley Mentoring really seeks to connect our youth to our community and the community to our youth,” said  Executive Director, Laura Pinney.

Rogue Valley Mentoring is a local youth-serving non-profit. Its mission is to transform communities through the mentoring of youth.

“The youth today have been so isolated, they have had a huge impact in their lives through covid, the fires, and through media exposure and all of the challenges with academic pressures,” said Pinney.

Since 2006, it’s served hundreds of youth across Jackson County through school partnerships, peer circle mentoring groups, and community-based programs. Organizers say it noticed a common theme of late. Kids feel unheard and are searching for a platform for their voice.

“A recurring theme in the youth that we have the privilege to speak with is loneliness and lack of purpose or ability to make an impact and events like this we’re hoping to empower youth to realize that they have the strengths and the gifts that we need,” said Pinney.

Now it’s hosting its first ever youth panel Wednesday, covering topics ranging from mental health to Covid and its impact, academic pressures, climate activity, and gun violence in schools. The event will also feature music, food trucks, and games.  18-year-old Jazmine Wallace is a member of the panel, she’ll be speaking about mental health.

“The most important thing that I wanna get across is that you’re not alone, just because something that I know I struggled with was feeling like I’m the only person that feels like this who goes through this, and that’s not true there are going to be 10 people in the panel proving you’re not the only one,” said Wallace.

State Senator Jeff Golden and State Representative Pam Marsh and other community leaders will be there. What does Executive Director Laura Pinney hopes attendees walk away with after the event?

“We hope our community members feel inspired by the courage of these youth and by the questions they are asking and the topics they are exploring, we hope they feel inspired to participate more in the lives of the youth in our community,” said Pinney

The event is Wednesday from 5:30 to 8 p-m, at Coyote Trails Nature Center, in Medford.

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Jenna King is the 6pm anchor and our Feature Reporter at 10pm and 11pm for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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