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Youth make a difference

Posted: October 11, 2008 9:28 p.m.
Updated: December 13, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Youth make a difference
You're never too young to take an active role in your community. The city of Santa Clarita provides numerous opportunities for our teenagers, allowing them to become involved in a meaningful way and impact the community through various leadership positions.

High school students are making a difference in Santa Clarita by participating in the city's Visions in Progress Youth Advisory Committee, or VIP.

VIP members provide input on major city projects while learning valuable leadership skills and having a great time, too.

VIP participates in our local government in numerous ways. Through the VIP Ambassador program, members meet with designated city staff to contribute their ideas, opinions and recommendations for issues, projects and decisions that relate to and impact the teens of Santa Clarita.

VIP also hosts local government officials during portions of meetings, allowing them to establish meaningful relationships with their city representatives and get a first-hand view of how a local government operates.

Admirable things
Teens involved in Visions in Progress have the opportunity to promote mutual understanding, respect and communication with teens of all cultures and backgrounds.

This was recently demonstrated during a "Unity Teambuilding" that VIP hosted in June at the Valley Trails Summer Camp.

Through the use of various group games and challenges, VIP members worked with teens from the Newhall Community Center and the Santa Clarita Boys and Girls Clubs and had the opportunity to exercise effective leadership and to strengthen communication among the local teen groups.

VIP also increases youth involvement in their community by participating in community service events such as the Boys and Girls Club Day for Kids and the city's Make a Difference Day.

These experiences enhance members' resumes and college applications, showing that they took an active role in their local government.

Santa Clarita's Mayor Pro-Tem Frank Ferry has played an integral role in the creation and implementation of many of the extraordinary youth programs that the city offers to Santa Clarita teens.

t was through his foresight that the Visions in Progress Youth Advisory Committee was formed to advise the City Council on teen-related issues.

Visions in Progress to date has done some pretty admirable things including advising the Parks, Recreation, and Community Service Commission on priorities for city parks and recreation facilities, as well as participating in the development of the Open Space Master Plan.

In addition, they collaborated with the Blue Ribbon Task Force to create the Youth Grove, a permanent memorial grove, located in Central Park, dedicated to the youth of the Santa Clarita Valley whose lives have been cut short as a result of auto-related collisions.

Another beneficial city youth program is the Youth in Government Summer Internship, an extension of the Visions in Progress year-round program. Youth in Government educates students how local government operates.

Youth in Government allows teens a chance to interview for summer internship positions within the city. The internships give the students an invaluable opportunity to witness and participate in the everyday work that city employees do. The two components of the summer program include the three-week internship at City Hall and a workshop-style educational program.

This year 13 teens participated in the Summer Internship program throughout many divisions of the city, from communications to community services.

As part of this year's educational program, participants had the opportunity to address their questions to Mayor Bob Kellar during "A Conversation with the Mayor," a program that was aired on local television.

The teens involved in our many city programs play an active role in our local government and create experiences that help shape their future.

What's more, VIP and YIG also allow the teens who reside in the great city of Santa Clarita a chance to speak up on issues that are important to them and to all the youth in our community.

Get involved
It's never too early to step up, get involved and make a difference.

The Visions in Progress Youth Advisory Committee is open to all high school students living in the Santa Clarita Valley. To join, simply attend a meeting and complete the membership form available there.

The meetings take place on the first and third Wednesdays of every month from 4 to 6 p.m. and are held in the Century Room at City Hall, which is located at 23920 Valencia Blvd.

For more information on all of the local youth programs that take place year-round throughout the city, please call (661) 255-4965.

Laurie Ender is a Santa Clarita City Council member. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Live from City Hall" is a column provided to The Signal by the city of Santa Clarita.


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