It is an established idea that the future is in the hands of our young people, and preparing adolescents in the ways of taking responsibility and charge of their surroundings ultimately points in the direction of brighter conditions for all. In Centennial, that idea is becoming more and more true.
Since July 2003, the Centennial City Council has invited the area’s teenagers to take part in local government with its Centennial Youth Commission. The commission is a group of 11 teens, chosen after a competitive application and interview process, who collaborate with the city council regarding issues affecting the youths of the community.
The 2003 resolution establishing the panel emphasizes the idea that youth participation in a formal structure such as this group “builds youth assets, empowers youth, and provides the city with valuable information.” The document also stresses that the purpose of the program is to “develop citizenship skills of Centennial’s youth, foster greater understanding of their concerns and contributions, and encourage greater youth participation in community issues.”
The excellent students on this unique board are not only concerned with their community, but are also looking for a well-rounded and fulfilling experience. Participation in the commission involves important work such as being aware of issues in the community and being able to bring forward solutions, exciting other youths about events and issues Centennial faces, and getting involved with charities.
“I like being part of a group of students who share a passion for philanthropy,” said social media and public information correspondent Lily Boettcher. “I applied hoping that I would become more involved in my community and I have surely done that. I have learned about how a city is run and I’ve enjoyed meeting city council members and making connections with people around my community. It’s cool to see what a group of 11 teenagers can accomplish together.”
The youth commission volunteers with organizations such as Project C.U.R.E., the largest provider of donated medical supplies and equipment to developing countries around the world; InterFaith Community Services, which provides basic human services and enrichment programs to low-income people throughout Arapahoe County; and the SHARE project, a food drive initiative. Each fall, in time for Thanksgiving, the commission helps collect food for SHARE and puts together packages of food to give to families.
On a more intimately local scale, the group participates in running Centennial family events. Members of the community were able to see the enthusiastic teen leaders at the game booth exhibited at the Centennial Under the Stars celebration Aug. 3. The Youth Commission also plans on running a tie-dye booth at Centennial Dog Days, a festival for the canines and their families on Sept. 14, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Centennial Center Park.
The application process for the commission for this year’s term, beginning in September and ending in late July, has just been closed. However, opportunities to get involved while waiting for next year’s selections are far from slim. For a lower time commitment but the ability to work with the commission itself, join the Mayor’s Youth Corps, a volunteer group that aids the youth commission in organizing and implementing community events and projects. The youth corps meets only when help is requested and no application is needed.
For more information about the youth corps, commission, or getting involved in other ways, teens are always encouraged to attend events and come to city council meetings on Mondays or visit the commission website at http://www.centennialcolorado.com/index.aspx?NID=277.
“As a youth commission, we try to encourage youth involvement in the city,” Boettcher said. “We hope that by setting this example, other teens will follow and our city will benefit from young people learning to give back to their comm