News

Youth Commission adds a vital voice to the city

By JACINDA HOWARD

The Mirror

The chance to influence the city's decisions in matters involving youth is one given to members of the Youth Commission.

The Youth Commission will accept applications until July 20 to fill 11 to 14 vacant positions. The 13-member board, plus its alternate commissioners, is comprised of high school students who reside in Federal Way.

Becoming a commission member is a way for teens to have fun, get involved in their community and meet students from other Federal Way schools. The group's main focus is to host community events geared toward youth involvement, but the commission also serves as an advisory board on youth issues for the City Council and other city groups.

"It's really fun to be connected with the city," said Thomas Jefferson senior Shannon Bernardy, 18.

Commission traditions

At the beginning of the school year, the commission outlines a plan of events it will host. Commission members then work to organize these attractions.

A few events such as TUNE, Adopt-a-Family and Youth Recognition Night occur annually, commission liaison David Schmidt said.

TUNE gives youth a place to perform music and showcase their talents, said Bernardy, who first became interested in the Youth Commission after attending a TUNE event at Todd Beamer High School.

Seeing that teens were able to provide a service to other youth inspired her to join the commission, she said.

Adopt-a-Family is another annual event. During the holidays, the commission will sponsor a family in need. This past December, the commission spent more than $600 on a large family.

It was a moving experience to give the kids presents bigger than they were, Bernardy said.

"It's good to see how excited the kids are," she said.

Youth Recognition Night is a way to reward young people in Federal Way who may otherwise be overlooked, Bernardy said.

Each year the commission provides teachers from grades kindergarten through 12 with the opportunity to nominate outstanding students in several categories such as academics and athletics, Schmidt said.

City government

Although the commission is a means to have fun, it is also a way to get involved in city government.

The City Council will sometimes consult the Youth Commission on issues and activities regarding youth. The commission was recently invited to attend a meeting on gang presence within the city, Schmidt said.

Contributing to how the city operates requires teamwork and cooperation. It also allows the youth commissioners to make new friends.

"It's really good to meet kids from other schools, who we wouldn't have met without Youth Commission," Bernardy said.

Each commissioner is allowed to serve a term for up to two years. This year, many of the commissioners are graduating seniors.

In order to continue offering youth activities in Federal Way, the Youth Commission must receive applications from teens interested in helping their community become a better place.

The things the commission is capable of doing within the community are endless, Bernardy said.

"Not only is it fun, but you get a good opportunity to give back to the community," Schmidt said.

Contact Jacinda Howard at: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

How to apply

The Youth Commission meets at 5 p.m. every third Wednesday of each month at the Federal Way Community Center, 876 S. 333rd St. To apply to become a Youth Commission member, pick up an application at City Hall, 33325 8th Ave. S., or visit www.cityoffederalway.com. Applications may be turned in no later than July 20 at City Hall or at P.O. Box 9718, Federal Way, WA 98063. To learn more, call David Schmidt at (253) 835-6900 or the City Clerk's Office at (253) 835-2540.

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