Finding positive solutions for Malibu’s families and youth

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Martin Sheen is the featured guest speaker at this Saturday's MFYF summit.

The Malibu Foundation for Youth and Families, now in its sixth year, will hold a community summit to hear concerns and seek insight and ideas to address issues that affect the youth and families of Malibu.

By Rachael Stillman / Special to The Malibu Times

Last spring, the Malibu Foundation for Youth and Families conducted a citywide survey to get the community’s feedback on the most pressing concerns facing youth in Malibu. The results will be revealed at MFYF’s Nov. 19 community summit, “Face the Issues: Positive Solutions for Malibu’s Youth and Families,” and feature guest speakers Martin Sheen and Daniel Stern, a general session with expert panelists identifying the issues, as well as a brainstorming session in which the community will suggest solutions to the problems. The community’s suggestions will then serve as the base for Malibu Foundation’s future programs.

“It is our goal to leave this summit with a clearer idea of how the Malibu Foundation can best support the youth and families of our community as we enter our sixth year of service to the community,” said MFYF Director Kate Ross. “It is our hope that your readers will join us at the summit to share their insights, concerns and ideas.”

The MFYF was formed in December 1999 in response to the Columbine High School shootings. A group of community leaders came together to look into the issues facing Malibu youth, and out of that coalition the MFYF was born. The community then gathered to survey, brainstorm and determine what their first priority should be. A teen center was at the top of their list so there would always be a place teenagers could go to and address their problems. By forming partnerships with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, the local community, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the MFYF established the Malibu Teen Center, located on the campus of Malibu High School.

Today, the 5-year-old teen center predominately serves middle school students. The MFYF has spearheaded a number of drug and alcohol intervention programs, including SMART Moves (Skills Mastery and Resistance Training), a program founded in partnership with the nonprofit organization, Renaissance Foundation. MFYF also supports Teen Only Friday and Saturday night activities.

The MFYF’s current goals are to expand its facilities to create a designated space and programs for older teens and to provide support during and after school, as well as on weekends. Foundation members expect last spring’s survey results and the community summit will help point them in the right direction.

“We’re having this youth summit on Nov. 19 to gather the community together to talk about issues that affect teens such as eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, and risk-taking behaviors,” said MFYF Executive Council member Kathy Wisnicki. “We started the teen center with community support and we’re hoping to continue with that community support and outreach to the community. We want to create partnerships with other members of the city who can help us to reach our goals. We want to hear the issues that the community thinks are important and take the Malibu Foundation to the next level.”

Wisnicki said she thinks it is important to realize that Malibu is a rather small community that doesn’t provide many family services.

“We don’t have the services that a larger community would have. We don’t have internship programs, we don’t have places for families to go where they feel like they can get support if their teen is in trouble,” she said. “And we know we have teens in Malibu with risky behaviors. The Malibu Foundation is looking for ways to branch out and establish that kind of support in our community. And we encourage everyone to get involved, whether they have a teen or not, because there’s always a way or an idea that can help us help the teens in our community.”

The MFYF invites the entire Malibu community to attend “Face the Issues: Positive Solutions for Malibu’s Youth and Families,” Saturday, Nov. 19 from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Malibu High School campus. More information can be obtained by calling 310.589.8363 or visiting the Web site, www.malibuyouth.org