The Sumner/Boney Lake Communities for Families Coalition will celebrate its 20th annual community summit, “Igniting Positive Change,” on March 21.
Residents from both cities are invited to connect with local leaders, youth and organizations and learn about issues that impact the health and wellness of children in the community.
“Our youth are the energy in this Summit,” said Marilee Hill-Anderson, STARR project director at the Sumner School District.
Hill-Anderson has been involved with the coalition, summit and youth forums since its inception.
Many of the topics are youth-generated, including sessions about substance abuse, kids who make good choices, and social media and personal safety in the community, Hill-Anderson said.
“The CFC community summit is a truly unique opportunity to study issues from a variety of perspectives,” Hill-Anderson said. “It’s a true highlight when we see positive, concrete outcomes emerge from these discussions.”
The event will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. at Bonney Lake High School. It will include pre-summit sessions, breakout sessions and a complimentary dinner. The keynote speaker will be Monte Stiles, and Unsung Hero awards will be presented.
John Galle, former chief of Sumner police, has been involved with the summit for 16 years.
“I go because I want to hear what’s on people’s minds,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for us to really hear and discuss issues that are important to our community and our community health.”
The summit began 20 years ago in what used to be a Sumner Fire Department meeting room.
Thirty-five leaders from Sumner, Bonney Lake and the school district gathered to study data from the Washington Survey of Adolescent Health Behaviors, as well as to discuss their perceptions of health in their communities, Hill-Anderson said.
“Over the years, the event grew from 35 to 75 to 125,” she said.
When Calvary Community Church offered to host the event, the summit saw an increase in attendance and involvement to about 300 individuals, Hill-Anderson said.
“About 200 adults and key leaders, as well as 100 youth representatives from our local middle and high schools, now register for our event,” Hill-Anderson said.
The pre-summit sessions will start at 3 p.m. They include Choose Health and How Effective Coalitions Ignite Positive Change.
Both focus on achieving and embracing better, healthy lifestyles.
Breakout sessions will begin at 5 p.m. and focus on “making good choices, personal safety, social media (and) youth and business in the community,” stated a news release from the Sumner School District.
Through the sponsorship of Pierce County Community Connections, Stiles will be the speaker and instructor of pre-summit session No. 1. Stiles served as a state and federal prosecutor in Idaho for 28 years.
“One of his proudest achievements was the organization and implementation of the ‘Enough is Enough’ anti-drug campaign, which produced community coalitions in every area of his state,” a news release stated.
The Unsung Hero awards recognize the dedication of those who make their communities better. This year, five individuals and two businesses will be recognized during the ceremony.
“Two of our Community Impact/Unsung Hero award winners are teens who have ignited positive change,” Hill-Anderson said. “Not only in their schools, but in the community as a whole.”
The event is free and open to the public. Guests must pre-register online at www.sumnersd.org or call the STARR Project at 253-891-6066.Samantha Shockley is a freelance reporter for the Herald.