LSWDA hosts annual Youth Forum

Above, high school seniors work together on a critical thinking activity.

Above, high school seniors work together on a critical thinking activity.

Lower Savannah Council of Governments, Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act and Department of Commerce sponsored the Aiken Youth Forum at Aiken Technical College on March 7, 2019, from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm. This annual event gives high school seniors a hands on look at careers and the opportunities to meet their career goals when they graduate.

Dr. Forest E. Mahan, President of Aiken Technical College, and André Anderson, Workforce Development Administrator at Lower Savannah Council of Governments, welcomed 223 high school students and chaperones.

The guest speaker was Brooks Harper, author, speaker and career expert. His books, Why Should We Hire You and 7 Skills to Make Mills, are tremendous resources for students and educators. Brooks aspires to the belief that every day is an interview and an opportunity to turn learning into earning and your passion into your paycheck.

SRNS, Aiken Regional Medical Center and Aiken Technical College had displays set up in the ATC gymnasium for students to view and offered hands on activities to assist students with their career choices.

The students were divided into breakout sessions that included #Build Your Best Life Fair and #Build Your Best Life Skillshops and Critical Thinking Activity.

LSCOG receives innovation awards

[AIKEN, SC] Lower Savannah Council of Governments received two 2018 Innovation Awards from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO).  The programs awarded were Dementia Dialogues® and the Summer Youth Jumpstart Program.

LSCOG’s Aging, Disability and Transportation Resource Center hosted two Dementia Dialogues® classes to provide caregivers with practical caregiving skills training. One of LSCOG’s Ombudsman Specialist became a certified trainer of the Dementia Dialogues® program, which was created in 2002 by the Office of the Study of Aging within the University Of South Carolina Arnold School Of Public Health. The classes used Dementia Dialogues® standardized materials, including handouts, PowerPoints, scenario discussions and specially-designed role play activity to provide free comprehensive training in the Lower Savannah region.

The Summer Youth Jumpstart Program provides summer employment for rising seniors in the Lower Savannah region. The program began in 2015 and has been expanded to all K-12 school districts in the region. Students enrolled in the program attend two soft-skills training sessions. After the sessions, they are placed on a job site for 240 hours at $9.25 an hour. The students then continue as participants of the WIOA Youth program which ends with placement in full-time employment or enrollment into a post-secondary educational environment.

NADO is a national association that promotes programs and policies that strengthen local governments, communities, and economies through regional cooperation, program delivery and comprehensive strategies. The association’s Innovation Awards program recognizes regional development organizations and their partners for improving the economic and community competitiveness of our nation’s regions and local communities. NADO presented the awards at their Annual Training Conference October 13-16, 2018.

For more information about these award-winning projects, contact Susan Garen, Regional Ombudsman or André Anderson, Workforce Development Administrator at 803-649-7981.

Lower Savannah Council of Governments is a regional quasi-governmental organization serving Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Calhoun and Orangeburg counties.




Summer Jumpstart Program is a success

The Summer Jumpstart Program is designed to target rising high school seniors with little to no work experience, and give them a job over the summer. This year, twenty-seven (27) rising seniors were placed in work experiences with the school districts of Aiken, Denmark, Williston and Calhoun counties. The school districts acted as the work site, and students worked in various departments, such as administration, material center, maintenance, technology and communications.

Jamie Stephens, Director of Guidance for Calhoun County, stated “The Summer Program assisted several of our students this summer. I was so grateful that our students were given the opportunity to participate. We have 100% of our student body on free lunch. This program allowed our students to get work experience as well as earn finances to assist with their daily living need. We hope that the program continues because the experiences gained throughout this work program is both rewarding and invaluable.”

Deborah Gladden, a parent of a participant, stated “The program was outstanding from start to finish. This was the best thing for my son Dominic Gladden, who worked in the maintenance department. I watched him grow and mature over the summer. He also gained work experience and work ethics while participating in the program. I am very pleased with this program.”

Alana Hick, participant with Bamberg School District 2, stated “With this past work experience, I’ve learned the way of office work. I learned all of the expectations as well as rules to working as an office secretary. I learned good work ethics, professionalism and customer service skills. I also learned what to expect in the real world once I start to venture out on my own.”

“Teaming up with our school districts to provide imperative hands-on work experiences is the key to developing young adult’s employable skill sets which are needed in the workforce,” said Megan Helmig, Youth Coordinator for Lower Savannah.

Lower Savannah Workforce Development Area (LSWDA) is pleased with this extended effort and looks forward to providing more hands-on work experiences with our young adults within our communities. For more information about LSWDA’s opportunities, please visit