Hosted by the Washington County Commission on Children and Families and the Youth Advisory Council, the 6th Annual Youth Summit was a remarkable success. This year’s summit, attended by over 400 local students, advisors, and mentors focused on Alcohol and Drug Prevention and Violence Prevention.
Students listened to speakers well-versed in each of these areas. They then worked in school teams to consider how their communities are impacted by these issues and to plan projects to address them. Packets containing guidelines and an application for grants of up to $750 were distributed to the teams. The grant applications were then read and rated and funding recommendations were made.
The Youth Advisory Council or YAC are a group of local students who meet twice a month and plan the Youth Summit and other community projects. In a recent issue of the Beaverton Times Kristen Forbes covered the summit and interviewed several YAC members. Hanna Al-Narjan, a Beaverton High School Junior, explained that members focus a lot of their energies toward the Youth Summit in the fall, and the culmination event at the end of the year.
“We see the whole projects through,” she said. “We plan what goals we want to work toward, and the groups make their projects based off of that. At the Youth Summit they get ideas, they talk to each other, they hear presentations from adult leaders, then go back to their school and come up with an application they send it to us and we read it and decide whether it works. If it doesn’t we sent it back to them, ask them to tweak it, and they send it again.”
Megan Stewart, Beaverton High School Senior notes, “The students who attend are usually involved in student leadership at their school. They're student leaders who are trying to make a difference and who want to make a difference. They go back to their respective schools and spread that around.”
As for the next step, Aloha High School Junior Sami Gray says, “Once we approve them, we step back. The next time we see them is at the culmination event in May. That’s when we see how all of the projects we approved became real and how they helped the communities.”
This year the loss of senior YAC members who have graduated and moved on, or who were attending for their last time, was keenly felt. New members, full of energy and eager to learn from those who have volunteered hours of hard work, make the transition slightly less painful and send the message that they are ready to step up and do what they can to help.
The Youth Advisory Council (YAC) was awarded a small grant to purchase materials for a service project in partnership with Project Homeless Connect.
They made blankets for the homeless. The blankets were hand tied and made of warm fleece. They made more than 20 blankets prior to the January event.
Last year the YAC made a similar number of blankets, which were distributed to the homeless through Project Homeless Connect and the Safe Place Youth Shelter.