Students who want to share their ideas, oversee grant projects and learn about their community are encouraged to apply to the Athens Mayor’s Youth Commission for the 2021-2022 school year.
The Youth Commission’s goal is to teach students about local government’s role and their role to be engaged and informed citizens.
Applicants must be students at Athens High, Athens Bible School or Lindsay Lane Christian Academy or a home-schooled student in the city and be in grades 10–12.
“We challenge these students to speak up, learn about their city and give back,” Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks said. “Students do not have to be at the top of their class to apply. We want any student who has a desire to become invested in Athens.”
Through the program, Youth Commissioners attend monthly meetings at various city departments, tourism sites, businesses and nonprofit organizations to learn about jobs and services provided in the community. They attend at least one Athens City Council meeting and one Athens City Board of Education meeting, and they participate in at least three community service projects. The Youth Commissioners oversee the Athens City Hall Art Corner project, for which local students submit art entries based on a theme and the Youth Commissioners choose which pieces will be on display at Athens City Hall.
In addition, Youth Commissioners oversee a community grant program through which they accept grant proposals from nonprofits that have a project that will benefit Athens. The Youth Commissioners discuss and debate which projects they think will provide the most benefit and determine which to fund.
Most recently, the Youth Commission received thank-you letters from Camp Hope and Athens-Limestone Community Association for supporting their projects with grants. Camp Hope served 47 campers ages 12 and younger and 15 teen campers who are dealing with grief.
“Our goal for the day is to equip these campers with the tools they need to better deal with their new found emotions and how to talk about and recognize them,” Camp Hope Coordinator Emily Sandlin said.
The ALCA purchased tables and chairs for the Pincham-Lincoln Center on the historic Trinity/Ft. Henderson site.
“Your (grant) will help preserve the heritage of an education institution that in its 105 years of operation produced an outstanding array of leaders,” ALCA President David Malone said.
City employees and community leaders serve as mentors for the program. If COVID-19 impacts the ability to meet in person, the mentors will provide other avenues for students to stay involved, such as online meetings.
“Last year, the students did not have as many opportunities to volunteer with groups as we typically offer, so we challenged them to make cards of encouragement for the Birdie Thornton Center clients, hospital staff, cancer survivors and our Sister City in Stonehaven, Scotland,” mentor Holly Hollman said. “I heard from several who said those cards made their day.”
Applications are available online at www.athensal.us and have been sent to the schools. Students who have not previously served need to submit a new member application with two reference letters. Previous member applications are due Sept. 6, and new member applications are due Sept. 13.