How did PowerUps get started?
At some point, Marci Penner of the Kansas Sampler Foundation realized that rural communities weren’t maximizing the potential of young people. Some towns were, some weren’t. The towns that had that young energy in gear had a noticeably different feel about them.
Some young people were asked to be on committees or councils just to fill a chair. What would happen if those young people became engaged and empowered? What would happen if older folks asked how younger people viewed things rather than just asking them to come into the “old” system.
Marci contacted some of the young people and suggested a meeting. In July 2009, Abby Amick, Wabaunsee County Economic Development director; Julie Roller, Pottawatomie County Econonomic Development; Ashley Bogle of Greenwood County Economic Development; and Abby’s intern Kayla Anderson met Marci at the Miracle Café in Reading.
It didn’t take long before the notion took hold that doing this right could change rural communities. It could change Kansas.
Before long the following were added to the mix: Christy Hopkins, Greeley County Economic Development; Erika Nelson, Lucas artist; Liz Sosa, Inkt Graphics, Garden City; Kristy Rupe, Golden Belt Community Foundation, Claflin; Jennifer Arnold, Clearwater Chamber; Sarah Werner, Winfield Convention & Tourism; Jeff Sackrider, Wamego Telecommunications; and WenDee LaPlant, Kansas Sampler Foundation.
We presented test runs of the idea to the Kansas YP Summit, a CYN conference in Nebraska and one in Oklahoma. It was clear that young people were ready to be recognized as positive forces for moving rural communities forward.
We define “PowerUps” as 21- to 39-year-olds who are rural by choice.
When needed, we decided to call this age group of 21-39s who are rural by choice, PowerUps. You’re not a PowerUp just because of your age or because you live in rural Kansas. It has to be your choice.
A focus on the PowerUps, in and of itself, won’t be enough to move our communities forward. This Movement is about considering all age groups and desiring that each one have the opportunity to enjoy a better life. The pathway to sustaining a rural lifestyle, and thus healthy rural communities, is through the empowerment and support of the PowerUps.
Hey, maybe you live in the city but maybe you have some rural in your bones. Be part of this!Become a Member