SOLEDAD — Soledad City Council greeted new and returning members of Soledad Youth Council, 20 in total, during last month’s regular meeting as the 2020-21 membership was introduced.
This is the second year for the youth council, which began in March 2019, with 12 founding members. Their purpose is to increase youth engagement and active participation in the city and school policies.
Youth council members attend city council meetings and regularly deliver reports to the city leaders.
“We strive to ensure that youth perspective and voice is at the center of decisions being made by our school and city leaders, while also providing opportunity for youth to implement initiatives and projects that will result in positive outcomes to our community,” said Iván Ibarra Mora, adviser to the youth council, at the Aug. 5 meeting.
Members of the youth council hold their own biweekly meetings and have also organized events, such as their first event in May 2019, the Youth Forum. New members for the council are chosen each summer, including those who want to return. They also choose two youth commissioners from among their membership.
“Although this year may be different, we will continue to address issues and celebrate the opportunities our community has to offer,” said Amber Solorio, a youth commissioner serving her second year. “Members have learned more about themselves and others, more specifically about their strengths that can be applied as a youth representative and member.”
The youth council takes on a key initiative every school semester, one each in fall and spring. Their continued work is planned for Orchid Lane Park, as well as advocating for more youth recreation.
“Pivoting towards a virtual setting, members were tasked with asking City Manager Brent Slama any lingering questions they might’ve had following his presentation,” said Marcela Perez, also a youth commissioner. “I’m looking forward to exploring other leadership positions in our community with the council. From what I’ve seen so far, this experience gives our team’s ideas for change in the community more exposure.”
Celia Solorio is co-adviser of the council along with Mora.
This year’s youth council includes 12th-graders Angel Castro, Ximena Mandujano, Maya Padilla-Chavez, Marcela Perez, Christian Perez and Amber Solorio; 11th-graders Layla Ahmed, Perla Espinoza, Uriel Ramirez, Devannie Ruiz, Megan Sacyat and Sofia Vargas; and 10th-graders JulieAnn Lopez, Chinemerem Elelleh and Ethan Solorio.
The youngest high school students in the group are ninth-graders Rodrigo Chavez, Itzel Figueroa, Diego Guillen and Wakeen Harrell. Also new to the group this year is eighth-grader Noelani Amador.