Leadership class to host free teen movie night

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By Tracy Harris

Participants in this year’s Leadership Oldham County program are reaching out to local youth for their capstone project.

The group is launching a “Free Friday Flick” program, offering the first movie July 13.

Leadership Oldham County began a decade ago and is designed to educate members about the services, amenities and challenges in Oldham County. Each year about 15 local business leaders and residents participate in the program sponsored by Oldham Chamber and Economic Development. This year, that project will center around engaging students.

“From everything our class learned this year, one thing was clear — more could be done to engage teens,” said Tim Williams, one of the participants. “We learned that Oldham County students have been saying for some time that there is a lack of fun activities or places to hang out when not in school.”

Williams said the event may include prizes and inter-school competitions, like best costume and tug-of-war. 

But Williams said the group recognizes the best way to develop a program is to ask people who would benefit — so the group created an online survey. 

It begins by asking if the respondent would attend a free movie, and also asks for input on how to shape the program.

“Through the survey we hope to learn students’ preferences for having the event indoors or outdoors, once a week versus once a month, and if we should have separate events for middle school and high school students,” Williams said.

Williams said Operation: Parent, a non-profit that provides education and support to parents of teens and pre-teens, supported the program by sending the survey to all of its registered families. 

Volunteer Paula Schandle said she loves the idea. She recalls her own teenage years, feeling like she was too old to do certain things anymore, yet too young to do others.

“I am so glad to see something like this happening for our teens,” she said.

The survey gives youth an opportunity to voice their opinion about the activities or events they wish were available in Oldham County, Williams said.

“That feedback alone could change our group’s direction if we discover the movie idea isn’t on target,” Williams said. “Ultimately our goal is to find a way to bring students together and provide a safe, fun event.”

Deana Epperly Karem, executive director of the chamber, said this is the sixth year the leadership class has completed a capstone project.

Projects have focused on strengthening the community and supporting families, she said. In the fall, a “hike and bike” event encouraged families to use the Commerce Parkway trail and visit health and fitness booths.

The Commerce Parkway trail also features a gazebo at each end — another project of the leadership program. 

Other projects include a mentoring program for high school students and installing free wireless internet in downtown La Grange.

The first Free Friday Flick is 7-10 p.m. July 13 at the La Grange Community Center.