The Star-News


A place for civic-minded teens

Sat, Aug 11 2012 12:00 PM Posted By: Chelsea Magracia

Now that the new school year has started, the Chula Vista City Council is looking for 10th- 11th- and 12th-grade students to serve on their Youth Action Council. This opportunity is open to students who live in Chula Vista regardless of where they go to school.

The Youth Action Council presents students with a chance to develop leadership skills within their communities and the City Council takes part by establishing meetings with board members and community projects. Mayor Cheryl Cox said the Youth Action Council is important to students’ civic development.

“It’s all about getting them engaged and caring about their communities. These are our future leaders. So there are a couple different functions for the Youth Action Council: community service, the government aspect and then just being involved in the community,” Cox said.
The Youth Action Council was first started as the Youth Advisory Commission with Mayor Steve Padilla when he was elected in 2002. At first there was a “sunset” date, meaning that the group would eventually fall away after a certain amount of time. It was continued under Cox as the Youth Action Council.
“The goal is to promote leadership. We don’t want to give them all the answers, we want them to come up with some of the questions and some of the responses,” said Cox.
Each Youth Action Council group has come on board right after the school year starts and the liaisons help them understand what other councils have done, then they plan projects in the community based on their interests.
“It was really important to me that we have a Youth Action Council for lots of reasons. One is to make sure that if the students want to know more about their municipal government, they can work with our staff liaisons to come up with ideas,” said Cox.
One of the liaisons of this council is Jennifer Quijano who has been involved for six years.
“Sometimes (students) are interested in working with the kids in preschools, or other times it’s other things like coming to City Hall and taking a tour,” Quijano said.
Bryce Smith, 17, has been a member of the group for three years and takes an interest in local government.
“I chose to be part of the Youth Action Council because I wanted to be a voice for the teens of the city, and I wanted to make cool experiences for them possible throughout the city,” Bryce said.
Two years ago, the city’s conservation department asked the Youth Action Council if they would be interested in participating in a survey of why people recycle and what makes them use recycle bins.
Members of the council took the surveys back to their schools, collected data and provided information to the conservation department which then reported the survey results back to the City Council.
“If they say they are much more interested in the food served in the cafeteria, that isn’t something we do. However, we do have programs for healthy eating and active living. We have a recreation department and have kids meet at Parkway gym or have the recreation team members come and talk to them at the library where they typically meet,” Cox said.
The Youth Action Council members typically serve for about three years while in high school.
The group meets on the first Monday of every month, but when participating in projects, meetings are held twice a month.   
The deadline for applications is noon Thursday, Aug.16, and interviews will be scheduled through the month of August. Applications are available online at www.chulavistaca.gov/goto/Boards
For more information, contact Jennifer Quijano at (619) 409-5812 or at jquijano@chulavista.gov.


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