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‘A Safe Place’ for Children in Fitchburg During International Youth Day

August 12, 2018

By Mina Corpuz

mcorpuz@sentinelandenterprise.com

FITCHBURG -- Chatter filled Gallery Sitka as children and teens picked out paints to decorate rocks and beads to make jewelry.

The Main Street gallery transformed into a space for youth to express themselves Saturday as part of the city’s celebration of International Youth Day.

“There are young people in Fitchburg who need a safe place to go,” said Gallery Director Tamar Russell Brown.

The United Nations established International Youth Day in 1990 and the day is commemorated each year on Aug. 12. This year’s theme is “Safe Spaces for Youth.”

Physician Tatjana Kobb and Brown organized the event by partnering with the city, Fitchburg Art Museum, and Fitchburg Public Library.

The free event drew about a dozen to the gallery. A group of children and teens from the Crossroads for Kids youth empowerment program stopped by after cleaning up garbage downtown.

Kobb said spaces like Gallery Sitka give youth a place to come together, express themselves freely, and engage.

A.J. Tourigny, chief of staff to Mayor Stephen DiNatale, said the mayor has supported arts and culture initiatives in the city, which include safe opportunities for the youth.

Kobb, who recently moved to Fitchburg, runs a consulting form called Boston Sustainability Advising that follows the UN’s 17 goals for sustainable development.

The goals, which include quality education, gender equality, and partnerships, are meant to be achieved by 2030.

Kobb launched the Global Dimensions with Local Actions Initiative to bring those goals to Fitchburg and the region.

“Sustainable development is inclusion,” she said. “It’s diversity. It’s caring by sharing and by realizing how much more we have in common and more we can do when we know other people’s stories.”

At-Large City Councilor Sam Squailia, who is also an architectural engineer, spoke about one of the sustainable development goals, which is to promote sustainable cities and communities.

Having green buildings that reduce energy consumption is a way to meet this goal, she said.

Sustainable development starts one building at a time, Squailia said, and it can be expanded on a city-wide scale.

Kobb looks forward to hosting more events to talk about the sustainable development and encouraged people to reach out to their local leaders to push the goals forward.

Follow Mina Corpuz on Twitter @mlcorpuz.

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