Helping community, building futures: Cedar City Youth Council

Cedar City Youth Council at the Utah State Capitol, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2012 | Photo courtesy of Shannon Avance

CEDAR CITY – Educating local youth on government and civic responsibility, giving back to the community and building successful future citizens are the goals that define the Cedar City Youth Council.

Fundraising bake sale for the Cedar City Youth Council, Cedar City, Utah, 2013 | Photo courtesy of Shannon Avance
Fundraising bake sale for the Cedar City Youth Council, Cedar City, Utah, 2013 | Photo courtesy of Shannon Avance

The council is made up of students in good academic standing from Cedar and Canyon View High Schools; most are juniors and seniors. After submitting an application detailing their background, academic and personal achievements and desire to be a part of the program, accepted youth are sworn in by the city council. Their pictures are hung in council chambers along with the current councilmembers and mayor.

The youth mayor leads by overseeing meetings, creating and following an agenda and keeping other main council functions in order. The remaining seats are filled by such administrative positions as treasurer and committee heads, along with regular members. The city council provides the main source of support for the program, along with the Cedar City Police Department and the parents of involved students.

“The Cedar City Youth Council is a group of outstanding students and citizens,” Cedar City Councilman Don Marchant said. “Hopefully, they take their knowledge and enthusiasm learned from being a part of this program back to their fellow students and encourage them to become involved citizens.”

The design and functions of the council are based upon those of the Cedar City municipal government but include unique activities and responsibilities that only students could undertake, like recruiting fellow youth at their schools. Each member has individual assignments that they organize and present to the council and work together to arrange service projects that involve the community. Additionally, they are encouraged to attend city council meetings, make presentations to and interact with the council, attend a session of the Utah State Legislature every February and learn about the Constitution, how various government agencies work and how to be effectively involved in the political process.

“We benefit the city by giving our youth a positive extracurricular activity that contributes to the community, which we love,” Council Advisor Shannon Avance said. “Our students have a way to unite the two different high schools. We have done service for our local Special Olympics. We worked in a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving. It’s a great experience.”

“We are here to be the voice of all of Cedar City youth and make sure that we ensure a fun, safe and productive environment for our peers,” Youth Council Mayor Rhiannon Ahmed said. “I take pride in the position I hold and I know that I need to be able to speak on behalf of the entire city to be able to make a difference.”

Shae Bauer served on the council as technical coordinator for two years, during which time she faced the challenges of scheduling a group of busy teenagers into a well-organized and productive team. Both she and Ahmed said that the pressure of their positions was often difficult, but well worth the effort.

“I loved having the opportunity to be involved with (local) kids and the community, getting to know our actual city council and understanding the impact everyone can have on our city and the decisions that are made,” Bauer said. “I would encourage all students to get involved with their local youth council, as it is an opportunity that they will not regret taking. They will come to better understand their city and government, along with help serve and participate in many activities involving the community.”

Cedar City Youth Council at the Bradshaw Chevrolet Trunk or Treat, Cedar City, Utah, 2012 | Photo courtesy of Shannon Avance
Cedar City Youth Council at the Bradshaw Chevrolet Trunk or Treat, Cedar City, Utah, 2012 | Photo courtesy of Shannon Avance

“We are working hard to build up our numbers and our name in Cedar City to establish ourselves as an organization that the community will want to support,” Avance said. “The youth council looks great on college and professional resumés and is a fun group to be a part of. It takes time, hard work and dedication but in the end, the friendships developed and lessons learned are priceless.”

The council adjourns during the summer and will resume this fall for the coming school year. But citizens can support them at any time by spreading the word and encouraging youth to join.

Interested students can find out more or apply by contacting Avance at shannon.avance@gmail.com.

“The council is here to make sure that you are having a good time in the community and being a part of it is one of the most rewarding things you can do,” Ahmed said. “Knowing that you have such a great influence on those around you is a really good feeling. It’s always a good idea to get involved and be a part of your community.”

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FEATURE - Cedar City Youth Council at the Utah State Capitol, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2012 | Photo courtesy of Shannon Avance
Cedar City Youth Council at the Utah State Capitol, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2012 | Photo courtesy of Shannon Avance

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