Cville Youth Council Tackles Pedestrian and Bike Safety
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va (WVIR) -
Some youth leaders in Charlottesville are working to have their voices heard on some of the top issues affecting the city.
The Charlottesville Youth Council is modeled after similar groups in other cities across the country. Program supervisors say this is the first group of kids to do this in the region.
Charlottesville High School junior Monique Brown is also a member of her school's student government association and said she joined the Youth Council because she likes to be a role model for her peers.
"I like taking on the leadership role and I want to help the community as a whole," said Brown. "I feel like I'm making a difference because I'm able to change, well some things that benefit the youth in our city.”
It's the same reason CHS freshman Kibiriti Majuto joined the youth council.
"One of my English teachers gave me the application," said Majuto. "I wanted to do it because it was like kind of getting involved and they teach you leadership and one day I want to be a leader. It is preparing me for that so it's a good opportunity."
The youth council started last year. It's open to all public, private, or home school middle school and high school students. They meet monthly and receive leadership training throughout their time on the council.
The members of the youth council were actually appointed by City Council, and in November the students went with the city councilors to the National League of Cities Conference in Seattle.
"We learned different ways to fight poverty, different ways to benefit the youth with activities and being able to just solve problems across the nation," said Brown.
She said it was not only fun to interact with city councilors at the conference, but that she gained a lot from meeting with other young people.
"It was really nice to meet other kids in youth city programs across the nation," said Brown. "It was really fun. We got to play games with them and we got to connect with other people and learn how they help their cities."
Now the 15 members of the youth council are using what they've learned to try to work with city councilors and other city leaders to develop and implement ideas for improving the city, through the eyes of the youth.
Last year, the youth council's focus was bringing awareness to the new Jefferson School City Center. The students hosted a basketball tournament at the Carver Recreation Center inside the Jefferson School to get their peers over to the new facility.
This year, the youth council hopes to tackle pedestrian and bike safety.
"We hope to get a sidewalk put in or extended on Park Street," said Brown. "We know that there's a bus stop so it's hard to get through. So in hopes we will provide better safety for kids traveling and those walking also."
"Something can be improved because about the safety... some cars don't even watch out when people are walking around," said Majuto.
In addition to wanting more sidewalks on Park Street heading to CHS, the students also hope to find a way for pedestrians to cross Route 29.
They will present their ideas to the bike and pedestrian coordinator for the city during an upcoming meeting.
But walkability and bikeability in the city aren't the only focuses of the youth council. Majuto said some of his refugee friends want to work, but aren't of age. They've asked him to try to help.
"They came to America to help their family, they think that America is a place to improve. But then they'll say that America is a bad place, there are no jobs," said Majuto.
Most of Majuto’s friends are 15 years old, so they're not of age to work.
The youth council members will work on their goals for the year. They will then present what they've accomplished at a City Council meeting. At last year's presentation, youth council members thanked city councilors for the opportunity to serve their communities.
"I think this is helpful and I think we are going to make a change," said Majuto.
There is at least one spot available now on the youth council, and there will likely be more openings at the beginning of next school year. To apply, click here.
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