CUMBERLAND - On Friday, the Town Centre will be flooded with young people playing games, watching puppet shows and being honored during the Celebrating Allegany County's Young People: Friday After 4 event.

"The primary message of this event is that we all share the responsibility not only to protect our most vulnerable children but to promote the success of all young people in our community," said Robin Summerfield, systems of care specialist for the Local Management Board, one of the event sponsors.

The celebration will begin at 4 p.m. with the Children's Council Youth Community Service Awards, which are given to young people between the ages of 12 and 18 who have made significant contributions to the community.

"I think since they have done so much for our community, we should recognize their efforts and show that we are appreciative," said Mary Biery of the Office of Child Care. The first-place winner will receive $100, and the second-place winner will receive $50.

A children's memorial flag ceremony will take place at 4:30 p.m. The flag ceremony is part of the Child Welfare League of America's public awareness campaign to reduce child mortality by bring attention to violent child deaths, according to Summerfield.

Downtown Cumberland shows support by flying the flag during April, Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Performances by Allegany High School Madrigal Choir and Jon Felton and his Soul Mobile will follow the flag ceremony. A variety of demonstrations and exhibits, including the Allegany County Student Art Showcase, is also part of the event.

"Celebrating Allegany County's Young People provides a great opportunity for adults, whether they are involved in youth-serving programs or they simple care about kids, to demonstrate that our community truly values its children and young people," said Kathryn Delaney, Local Management Board executive director.

"As a society, we tend to focus on the increasing challenges young people face, risky behaviors, problems in school. Friday After 4 spotlights the great contributions that children and young people make to our community and gives us all a chance to celebrate them," said Sara Beth James, Local Management Board evaluation specialist.

The Allegany County Child Abuse Task Force, Children's Council of Allegany County, and Healthy Communities, Healthy Youth Allegany County are sponsoring the event with the Local Management Board.

Jennifer Raley can be reached at jraley@times-news.com.

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