HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) - The city of Hartsville is now nationally recognized as an 'All America' city, a title only 10 cities around the United States hold. The city won 20 years ago, back in 1996, and this year there was a new theme in the competition.
The main focus is the impact youth have in the cities. Tequan Coe was one of the teens chosen part of a team of 26 people who went to represent Hartsville at the competition held in Denver, Colorado. Coe played 'Amazing Grace' on his violin to introduce the team on stage before their presentation. It was to show the grace, they believe Hartsville holds.
Coe said, "I know they're here for me, so I couldn't help but break out in tears. I look at my beautiful town and all the people who were behind me and backing me up."
For the past 67 years, the National Civic League has honored cities around the United States for other communities to emulate.
Nancy McGee, Director for the 'All America' Hartsville team said it isn't just about the best downtown, the prettiest trees, and most retail, its more than that. "Hartsville has those things, but what really makes us an All America City is the way face our challenges. That is through collaboration with our private sectors, government, industry and our nonprofit organizations working together, collaborating together."
McGee was a part of the team in 1996 the first time Hartsville won, and this year she was back again to support the group, and especially the six teens that went. She said, "They were able to tell the story about each of those programs, and at least a couple had participated in multiple programs, and were able to talk about things like the police youth academy, how its helped them on their way as becoming adults."
Coe added, "It was an amazing experience, and it shows you how much young people can bring something together." Things like the youth's health, wellness, education, and preparation for the future. Their involvement with city government is what officials want the youth to be a part of, and learn to face challenges together. That's why Coe explained specifically music is what's helped him through his youth. "I really want to teach or come back and give back to the community in some kind of way to the young people, to show them there's a different way."
This year, Hartsville was the smallest finalist in the group of 10 cities that won. City officials said they want this national recognition to set them apart and also make locals proud. They are hoping to continue to give youth a voice, so they can leave a legacy one day.