| Berkshire District Attorney's Office Honors Outgoing Youth Advisory Board
|08:12AM / Wednesday, June 08, 2022
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire District Attorney's Office honored the accomplishments of this year's Youth Advisory Board in an evening of celebration on Thursday, June 2.
Overseen by the Berkshire District Attorney's Office, the board consists of 16 high school juniors and seniors from 9 different Berkshire County schools to bring youth issues to the forefront, build positive social environments among their school-aged peers, and volunteer to serve the community.
"I congratulate the outgoing members of this year's Youth Advisory Board. While I am sad that they will no longer be a presence in my office, I am excited to see what they accomplish. They've given me confidence that our future is in good hands," District Attorney Andrea Harrington said. "The Youth Advisory Board's contributions to our community are immeasurable as they've led their peers on the important issues of mental health, bullying, inclusivity, and healthy living, which will make our entire community safer for years to come."
The ceremony highlighted the year's activities.
In May, the Youth Advisory Board attended the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) Woman of Valor Luncheon in Boston, recognizing women leaders and their impact on our communities every day. The ADL gives the Women of Valor Award to remarkable women leaders committed to fighting hate, building bridges of understanding, and safeguarding liberties in their communities.
Ndey Awa Touray, a co-chair of the Berkshire District Attorney's Office Youth Advisory Board, delivered a speech, sharing the board's work to instill allyship and messages of inclusion in local schools. From attending training with the ADL to organizing the STRIVE Leadership Conference for our 8th-grade students, Touray shared the importance of the Youth Advisory Board's work to help their peers address bullying in all Berkshire County high schools.
"Being one of the keynote speakers at the ADL Woman of Valor event was truly an honor I will never forget. That experience taught me that I can make more of an impact on my community than I sometimes believe. I thank the Youth Advisory Board for that push," Touray said.
After the ceremony, the U.S. Attorney's Office provided the board a tour of the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse. The Youth Advisory Board met with U.S. Attorney Rachel Rollins and her staff and articulated a deep knowledge and understanding of youth issues.
In March, the Youth Advisory Board hosted the annual STRIVE Leadership Conference. The office's Youth Advisory Board organizes and hosts the annual conference to empower eighth-grade students from schools throughout the county as they prepare to enter high school. A total of 75 students attended this year's conference.
The board chose the theme "Courageous Conversations" and engaged with speakers who focused on youth mental health, wellbeing, inclusivity, and anti-bullying.
"The Berkshire District Attorney Youth Advisory Board allowed me to meet amazing people within my community and allowed us to bring our minds together to try and create change. I was also given an amazing opportunity to meet U.S. Attorney Rachel Rollins. This experience was something I will never forget," said Youth Advisory Board member Emma Bergeron.
The board received the ADL's No Place for Hate training on building inclusive school communities and took those lessons back to their districts. The Anti-Defamation League combats hate and bigotry through educating middle and high school students across New England through anti-bias peer training programs, partnering with local law enforcement agencies, and responding to local incidents in the community, all while advocating for justice, equality, and fair treatment for all.
Board members also created a Safer Internet Day public service announcement to raise awareness of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and share tips on safe internet usage with their peers.
The board assisted with the Berkshire District Attorney's Office's annual Vigil of Remembrance, a candlelight vigil for families to reflect and honor their loved ones who died in impaired driving collisions and spread awareness to deter others from operating under the influence.
The board volunteered to paint and clean the Roots Teen Center during the MCLA Day of Service.
The Thursday evening ceremony included a buffet catered by KJ Nosh, speeches from the District Attorney Harrington, members of the Berkshire District Attorney's Office Juvenile Justice Unit, Chair of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee Bill Ballen, and reflections on the year from Youth Advisory Board Chair Ben Heim and Co-Chairs Touray and Aiden Hyatt.