INAUGURAL MAYOR’S YOUTH COUNCIL PROMOTES CIVIC INVOLVEMENT

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McKayla Pilla

SHS students partake in the Mayor’s Youth Council.

Taylor Harris, Reporter

Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett’s Resolution created the Mayor’s Youth Council on May 20, 2015. Twelve students from Crooms Academy of Information Technology and Seminole High School comprise the inaugural Youth Council.

The schools select the participants. The Mayor’s Youth Council’s major goal is to engage Sanford’s youth to make recommendations to the City Commission concerning matters that affect every citizen. The Council met during the summer to select a project which aligns with the City of Sanford’s Mission and Vision.

Dr. Demetria Hayes and Dr. Connie Collins, principals at Crooms Academy of Information Technology and Seminole High, commented on the superior opportunity offered to these students to get an up close and personal view of the government at work as well as permit students to become vested in the local government and experience the impact they can have on their communities.

Chairwoman Amelia Green, a senior at SHS, shared that the Council has set four initiatives and is occupied with a fifth. The initiatives include environmental awareness, occupational readiness, Boys/Girls Clubs involvement, and the youth empowerment bridge. The environmental initiative promotes community gardens and elimination of grease traps. Preparation for interviews, appropriate interview apparel, and resume creation explain the focus for the occupational initiative. The youth empowerment bridge serves to decrease the fear and mistrust of law enforcement personnel.

To earn a position on the Council, members were obligated to apply to one of the two schools’ sponsors. Requirements for seeking a place on the Council included being a high school student, having two on-time teacher recommendations, and writing an essay detailing what one would bring to the Council and why one wanted a place on the Council. The mayor did not implement it until 2015 because of his involvement in numerous other matters. The Council has had eight meetings, and the members introduced themselves to the City Commission on Monday, August 17, 2015. As Chairwoman Green states, “Everyone knows who we are now.”

The Council has implemented the youth empowerment bridge with the Sanford Police and currently works with that department. Previous members must reapply to serve another term on the Council. An implemented system prevents prior members from repeatedly sitting on the Council. A majority of the members, with their varied backgrounds, have leadership experience, a government background, or a passion for government. No minimum experience exists. The Council serves as spokesperson for this generation of students in Sanford. Mayor Triplett offers the Council suggestions. Meeting in the conference room in city Hall, the Council sets its meetings which are held biweekly, selects and executes initiatives, handles matters important to teens and the younger generation, and acts as the political advocate for young adults.

Green quips, “It’s really helped that we’re a group of hardworking individuals who actually really do care about Sanford.”

Having direct contact with the mayor has allowed the Council to complete actions to occur which ordinarily would not happen. The meetings are open to the public.

Green sees the importance of the Council as she remarks, “I would like to see this [council] continue for 10, 20 years from now.”

Exhibiting her passion for fulfilling the council’s objectives, she announces, “I’m not finished playing my part, so I will be coming back.”

For many, Sanford appears proactive in providing a foundation for its future leaders.