Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.  

BRATTLEBORO — In September, Brattleboro became the third community in the nation to be certified as a Quality Youth Development (QYD) Community. A steering committee, made up of mostly local youth, spearheaded this project in order to improve their community and to make it more accessible and welcoming for kids and teens of all backgrounds.

A community needs to meet 7 out of 10 benchmarks in order to receive the QYD Community certification, which is based on a community’s commitment to its youth. One of the benchmarks asks local businesses to value their young customers by displaying a “Youth Are Welcome!” poster in a prominent location.

QYD youth member and 8th-grade student Mariam Diallo said, “It’s important because Brattleboro has a lot of businesses that are geared towards younger people. And I think it’s important for those businesses to be recognized and for other people to maybe strive to be more like those businesses and help make this place a more welcoming and safe place for kids and teens. My favorite part is doing the work for it like designing posters and drawing stickers. It’s really cool to see your art in the windows of stores and things.”

The youth members of the Brattleboro QYD Steering Committee developed the following criteria for a youth-friendly business:

— Doesn’t sell or promote products geared solely towards adults (such as alcohol or tobacco/vape products). Exemptions are food markets and restaurants

— Is an inclusive and welcoming place towards young people from all backgrounds

— Is a place where it’s not necessary for minors to be accompanied by an adult to enter the store

— Has friendly staff that youth feel comfortable talking to

— Is a place they would want to spend their time and money

Support our journalism. Subscribe today. →

The youth have chosen approximately 20 businesses (which is not exhaustive) and will be providing them with “Youth are Welcome” signs created by our QYD Steering Committee youth members. Here are the youth-certified businesses that are proudly displaying their sign:

Beadniks, Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro, Brattleboro Books, Brattleboro Food Co-Op, Brattleboro Historical Society, Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, Brattleboro Recreation Center, Brattleboro School of Dance, Brooks Memorial Library, Brown and Roberts Ace Hardware, Burrows Specialized Sports, Elliot Fish and Chips, Experienced Goods Thrift Shop, Galanes Vermont Shop, Insight Photography, The Latchis Theatre, Mocha Joe’s, Three Stones Restaurant, Twice Upon a Time, The Works, Yalla Vermont, Youth Services and Zephyr Designs

Karen Zamojski, store manager of Experienced Goods Thrift Store at 77 Flat Street, commented on their selection, “We are excited to know that folks of every generation feel safe and happy to shop at Experienced Goods.”

Stephanie Bonin, Executive Director of the Downtown Brattleboro Alliance showed support for the young people leading this initiative.

“What a great feeling to know the downtown community is succeeding at welcoming the youth of our towns. We need and want you to be part of the success of Brattleboro and so I look forward to seeing more stickers go up in windows!”

The Brattleboro QYD Steering Committee is looking for youth to nominate businesses that meet this criteria. Businesses are encouraged to nominate themselves as well. Go to www.bapc802.org to put in your nomination for review.

The QYD Project is a national community awareness and engagement campaign, in alignment with the 40 Developmental Assets developed years ago by the Search Institute. It seeks to raise community awareness and better engage communities in support of their youth. This project has been made possible with funding from VT Children’s Trust Foundation and VT Department of Health.

Contact Cassandra at Building a Positive Community if you want to learn more about how adults and youth can be involved with the project.

She can be reached at bapc802@gmail.com or 802-257-2175. You can follow this project on Instagram @brattleboro_qyd.