Wednesday, October 12, 2005

County Called One of the Nation's '100 Best Communities for Young People'

Article Last Updated: Monday, Sep 26, 2005 - 11:17:41 pm PDT

County Called One of the Nation's '100 Best Communities for Young People'
By Sarah Arnquist

FAIRFIELD - Solano County was recognized Monday as one of the nations' 100 Best Communities for Young People because of its commitment to providing a healthy, safe and caring environment for its youth.

More than 1,200 communities applied for the prestigious title. Solano County was one of seven California communities recognized for its innovative and successful work to help young people succeed by America's Promise, a national children's advocacy alliance founded in 1997 to promote the well-being of American youth.

The Solano County Board of Supervisors lists children as a top priority in several strategic goals. Supervisor Barbara Kondylis said the award proves community collaboration leads to success.

"Setting goals and priorities and sticking to them pays off," Kondylis said.

Solano County stood out because of its effective public and private partnerships that share common goals to improve the lives of children and youth, said Patrick Duterte, director of Solano County Health and Social Services.

"This award is really just a recognition of the partnership and collaboration that is unique to Solano County," Duterte said.

The Board of Supervisors leads the commitment and relies on devoted groups including the Solano Coalition for Better Health, First 5 Solano, the Children's Network of Solano County and various city partnerships to create effective programs, said Christina Linville, who compiled the application. She is the executive director of First 5 Solano.

"What we have in this county is perseverance, and I think, personally, that's more valuable than a lot of things," Linville said. "We just don't quit, and over time you see big changes."

Winning communities were selected on their achievement of five principles for children: Caring adults who are actively involved in their lives; safe places in which to learn and grow; a healthy start toward adulthood; an effective education that builds marketable skills; and opportunities to help others.

The Solano Coalition for Better Health and its work to provide health insurance to all children is the best example of collaboration, Duterte said. Solano County is tied at 96 percent for the highest number of insured children in the state. This fall, the county will launch a Healthy Kids program to insure 100 percent of the county's youth.

Solano County leaders demonstrate their commitment to youth through their actions - not just words, Duterte said.

Linville echoed Duterte, saying Solano's commitment to health and strong community collaborations set the county apart. Three of the Board of Supervisors' strategic goals focus on improving the lives of children in the community, Linville said.

Other California communities chosen include Chino, Irvine, Long Beach, San Jose, Sacramento County and San Mateo County. The 100 Best represent communities in different regions of the country with varying population densities and ethnicity rates.

"These communities weren't chosen because they're perfect," Linville said. "They were chosen because they're working very hard and working hard together."

Newsweek magazine and NBC's Today Show will feature the award winners in the coming days. All recipient communities will be honored at a celebration in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 2.

The recognition is flattering, but there's always room to improve, Kondylis said.

"The bottom line is that we may be good, but we can do a lot better," she said.

Reach Sarah Arnquist at 427-6953 or


100-Best selection criteria was based on Solano County's commitment to these five principles:

- Community has established relationships with parents, mentors, tutors and coaches that support, care about and guide youth.

- Community has safe places with structured activities for youth to learn and grow.

- Community provides adequate nutrition, exercise and health care to pave the way for healthy adults.

- Community has effective education system that prepares youth with marketable skills to transition to work.

- Community service opportunities are available to enhance self-esteem, boost confidence and heighten a sense of social responsibility.

Source: America's Promise.

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