|
|
The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • New program to involve teens in local government

    • email print
      Comment
  • ?This fall, there will be some new faces on several city boards in Sedgwick — though they won’t be faces you’d typically expect to see at local board meetings.?The city of Sedgwick is creating a new youth council composed of seven high school students who will sit as ex officio members on local boards — such as the city council and the library board — and also will meet together to discuss ideas for the city’s future.?“We want them to take an active, participatory role in what’s going on,” said Sedgwick City Administrator Jaci Reimer. “... We think that getting them in will get them more involved in the community.”?Reimer serves on the Kansas Association of City/County Management board and as chair of that organization’s education committee. She said the organization decided that instead of simply educating city and county managers, they wanted to educate the public and youth about the role of local government.?“How do you get the next generation interested in pursuing our career?” Reimer said the organization has been asking. “... How do you get them involved in government as a whole?”?Cities were challenged to find ways to involve youth in the community. Although some cities put on youth academies during the summer, where teenagers learn what the government does and tour municipal facilities, Reimer wanted to do something a little more hands-on for the youth in Sedgwick.?The city’s new youth council will have seven high schoolers — a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior, as well as three at-large members. They will meet together once a month with Reimer to discuss city issues, projects they think the city needs to take on, and concerns they may have.?In addition, the students will each sit on a city board — such as the city council, recreation commission, senior center board, tree board and the library board — in an ex officio position.?Although the students won’t have voting power on these boards, Reimer said they will be encouraged to bring their thoughts and ideas to the table.?“We do want to know what they think we need,” she said.?The city will continue organizing the program, with the goal of having it fully formed by the end of September. Reimer also would like to see other cities in Harvey County pick up the program.?She hopes the youth council will inspire students to become more involved in the community, and to continue staying involved as they grow older. Without programs geared toward youth today, she’s afraid it will be harder for cities to find volunteers for city groups in the future.?“I think we’re losing a wonderful opportunity to involve what’s going to be the next generation of our community and our volunteer base,” she said.

        calendar