HOUSTON — Starting February 2019, Houston Middle and High Schools students registered in Youth 360 will be linked up to a youth club offering various activities and opportunities to “explore, play, learn, and get connected,” according to a recent press release.

“We are so excited to share that Youth 360 will launch in February of 2019!” Stephanie L. Allen Executive Director of United Way of Mat-Su wrote in an email describing the upcoming program.

Youth 360 is an effort to improve the health and wellness of local students by linking them to their peers, parents/caregivers, and community at large, according to Allen.

“Youth 360 builds connection by providing positive, meaningful activities and opportunities for young people and their families,” Allen wrote in the email.

This program will bring the United Way of Mat-Su, Mat-Su Health Foundation, Mat-Su Borough School District, R.O.C.K. Mat-Su, the Alaska Afterschool Network, Onward & Upward, and other partners together under the same cause.

“Youth 360 differs from other youth programs because it is really led by the youth themselves… We really want it to be easy for families to participate. We want all youth to know the community cares about you and we are all in for you,” Allen wrote in the release.

Houston Middle School is the first step of many in the grand vision Allen spelled out in her press release. She aims to reach all the youth across the Mat-Su Valley by 2023.

“Research shows that the more connected youth are, the more likely they will become happy, healthy, thriving adults,” Allen wrote in the release.

Youth 360 activities will include: after school activities, family events, summer programs, behavioral health services and transportation, and more.

In the release, Allen cited information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, saying, “social connection can reduce rates of youth bullying, suicide, and substance misuse and increase rates of overall youth health and well-being. Youth 360 builds connection by providing positive, meaningful activities and opportunities for young people and their families.”

For more information about the initiative or to learn more about how you or your child may participate, contact Stephanie Allen at sallen@unitedwaymatsu.org.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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