Tackling the area’s toughest issues has long been the responsibility of the elected members of the Las Vegas City Council. Now, kids are going to have a turn at it.
The inaugural Ward 6 Youth Council is being formed this month with students from Northwest Career and Technical Academy, Peterson Behavior Jr/Sr High School and Arbor View, Centennial and Shadow Ridge high schools. One student from each grade will be appointed by each school’s principal. The first meeting is scheduled in January.
The Youth Council will meet once or twice a month at the Centennial Hills Community Center, 6601 N. Buffalo Drive, to discuss issues important to them and deliberate ways to solve them. Issues could range from building a new park to bullying. It really is up to the students.
Ward 6 Councilman Steve Ross hatched the idea and presented it to the principals and school board members, all of whom were receptive to it.
“Principals are excited about this,” Ross said. “They see golden opportunities with it. … We want input from the youth. I want kids to run it. This thing can go in any direction.”
Ross said the Youth Council will be made up of nontraditional leaders. Students selected must not be valedictorians, class presidents, student council members or be involved in sports or other clubs. Ross wants to give “an opportunity to excel” to kids who have not tried out leadership roles before.
“The students I want are those that need an opportunity to lead,” Ross said. “They just need opportunities to exploit those talents.”
Trent Day, principal of Centennial High School, 10200 Centennial Parkway, said he immediately had his first appointment in mind, junior Sierra Kenoly.
Kenoly wants to be a lawyer after college. She said she has not had time to be involved with other student organizations because she works after school and wants to focus her extra time on studying.
She accepted Day’s challenge and said she looks forward to making a difference.
“I want to show teenagers how important they are and to show their value,” Kenoly said. “It would show them how to be positive (and) address issues in the community.”
Ross and Day said the Youth Council will be just as beneficial to adults.
“I’m hoping the adults in the city government will be able to hear a voice from our youth,” Day said. “Maybe there’s some things we’re oblivious to. We’re going to use them for a knowledge base as much as they’re going to use us.”
Ross said he believes the Youth Council can impact policy, an opportunity that people under 18 traditionally do not have.
“We want them engaged with the city council and what’s happening in the city,” Ross said. “Kids can (talk) to the mayor and city council and say, ‘This is what’s happening in our world.’ We can take that message to the school board. We can take that message to the governor.”
Ross said other council members are interested in starting the program in other areas of the city. Ross also said interested students could intern for council members or in departments that match their interests.
Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at email@example.com or 224-5524.