Henrico County’s general government departments and Henrico County Public Schools earned a combined 4 Achievement Awards from the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) which recognizes excellence in local government programs for 2017.
Henrico’s award-winning programs are listed below:
To expose and educate the youth in the central Virginia region about the impact of local government, the County Manager’s Office hosts a brief seminar to explain the structure and functions of Henrico County. The seminar includes an interactive presentation, hands-on experience in civil responsibilities, and a public meeting. The children and teenagers engage in outlining the County Manager Form of Government during a brief presentation and participate in activities demonstrating the wide array of services provided by Henrico County. At the conclusion of the seminar, they are encouraged to stay for a regularly occurring public meeting convening immediately afterwards.
The first Local Government 101 program was held in the spring of 2016. A total of six sessions have been held with an aggregate attendance total of 122. Youth attend to satisfy requirements for a scouting badge, obtain extra credit for class, or for general interest. The age spectrum ranges from five years old to 18 years old. Additionally, the program is not limited to Henrico residents. Thus, we have hosted participants from almost every surrounding locality. This program has led to a closer relationship with the Heart of Virginia Council Boy Scouts, the adult chaperones, and it has created another opportunity for government and elected officials to proactively interact with the public, as well.
Neighborhood Collections are a new way of organizing materials that is more responsive to the way that children and teens look for books. The program began in Henrico County Public Libraries (HCPL) in 2012, when Erin Lovelace, a Children’s librarian in the county, noticed a need for children’s books to be organized by subject to improve ease of access. The first Neighborhoods were created for children, and the subjects were Dinosaurs, Transportation, and Farms. Each of these Neighborhoods included both fiction and non-fiction titles for preschool to early elementary children. The program was then expanded to encompass teen literature, and teen books were grouped into Neighborhoods based on emotion and mood. After assessing the program, both the Children’s and Teen Neighborhood Collections added to the customer experience and improved circulation of materials.
The Henrico County Zika Working Group (ZWG) is a collaboration of county departments that share responsibility in reducing the potential impact of Zika virus. The overarching objective of the ZWG is to protect Henrico County residents by delaying and/or preventing local transmission of Zika virus, then, to intervene quickly and efficiently should local transmission occur. The Henrico County Standing Water Initiative (SWI), Henrico County Health Department (HCHD), and the Henrico County Division of Fire (DOF) developed an integrated approach. Through reliable communication and the introduction of a “Pick-a Day to Fight-the-Bite” Initiative, residents are successfully prepared to help prevent Zika virus. The Initiative focuses on maximizing education and outreach, providing timely and accurate information, coordinating community events, facilitating mosquito surveillance, site inspections, and laboratory diagnostics, and providing residents with effective mosquito protection practices.
The ZWG established a Unified Command which allowed county partners to develop and implement the Henrico Zika Preparedness and Response Plan/Incident Action Plan. The execution of Plan objectives resulted in measurable results, including the establishment of a volunteer workforce, new safety protocols, outreach and education guidelines, increased professional competency, and profound awareness of Zika-related issues.
The collaborative efforts of ZWG partners has enriched and strengthened county services and relationships, thus affording residents increased protection.
HCPS Student Congress was formed in 2004, for students to research, brainstorm, collaborate and advocate for necessary changes to countywide practices, regulations, buildings, and curricula. Each of Henrico County’s ten high schools sends ten representatives to serve on HCPS Student Congress. The makeup of HCPS Student Congress reflects the county’s diversity in its culture, race, and academic achievement.
These student leaders come together quarterly to learn about leadership skills and team dynamics. They work collaboratively with local educational leaders, School Board members, business partners, and other experts in related fields. Henrico Student Congress is a platform for student opinion that allows their involvement in the decision-making that directly affects their education and community. Additionally, the experience allows students from different backgrounds and locales to come together and appreciate the community’s diversity.
In addition to participating in the decision-making process of Henrico Schools, the students play a larger role: many of the county’s directors and specialists are able to use HCPS Student Congress as a means of making decisions for their departments, to the benefit of the whole county. Without these students, division leaders would not have a readily available forum for vetting ideas. Student Congress provides them with a thoughtful and experienced sounding board.