Six local students involved with the Spalding County Youth Advisory Council attended the Georgia Teen Institute held at Oxford College of Emory University earlier this month to learn leadership skills and to lay the groundwork for the upcoming year.
The Youth Advisory Council is a community service and youth leadership team made up of local middle and high school students that address youth-related issues in the Griffin-Spalding County area. The council is affiliated with the Gwinnett United in Drug Education, Inc. (GUIDE) and is also part of Spalding Collaborative.
GUIDE sponsors the yearly Georgia Teen Institute, a summer training program with year-round support. Youth councils attend the institute to learn more about their communities and to plan peer-focused prevention and community service projects to use in their communities. Two major initiatives of Spalding’s youth council are October’s Red Ribbon Week focusing on drug abuse prevention and Underage Drinking Awareness Month in April.
The Spalding Youth Advisory Council is well-respected at the Georgia Teen Institute, having been named the most energetic or “on fire” group three years in a row.
“We stand out in a positive way,” council co-advisor Marty Mayes told potential new members and their parents and the council’s kick-off meeting Wednesday at New Mercy Baptist Church. “We have set the standard that Spalding County is something great. Something positive can come out of Griffin.”
This was council co-advisor Cheryl Best’s first time attending the teen institute, and she was impressed.
“I have experience working with youth in Griffin, but through this I was able to see them become things I always knew they had the potential to do,” Best said, adding that the council is vital to Griffin.
“You can be yourself. No one judges you,” youth council member Shamere Crawford said about the summer institute.
Mayes’ goal for this year’s council is to have the students be more involved with planning and implementing community events. The council is open to students in the sixth through 12th grades.
“We give people a chance that others do not. We don’t care where you come from. We are just trying to make a generation see there is more to life,” Mayes said. Best echoes Mayes’ sentiment and hopes that the youth council will have a domino effect of positive change for other students in the community.
Any teen interested in joining the youth council may contact Mayes at [email protected] or 678-751-8996.
By Karen Gunnels Staff Writer [email protected]
Jun 23, 2016