A mayor’s committee that is focusing on how best to engage youths in Danville wants to take a look a models used successfully by other cities.
That approach was the consensus of the Mayor’s Committee on Youth following much debate at its meeting on Thursday night.
“I don’t have the answer, but I know that what we are doing now is not working,” Mayor John Gilstrap said.
Vice Mayor Alonzo Jones agreed, saying, “At our recent retreat, we talked about how we can get young people involved. We have tried to reach our youth through a Youth Council, but the people we want to reach we cannot get involved.”
In addition, attendance at meetings by Youth Council members has declined.
“We hear that we don’t listen to our young people, but how can we listen to them when we cannot get them to the table,” Jones said, referring to both Youth Council attendance and its effectiveness in engaging the broader student population.
In 2013, the first Danville Youth Council debuted under the direction of the Parks and Recreation Department. The council consisted of students at George Washington and Galileo high schools. The goal was to expose youth to the public policy process and allow them to get involved in projects that ultimately may have an impact on their future.
The mayor’s committee, which includes citizens who work in various youth development capacities, was established to gather feedback on the following questions:
- What do you feel the mission of the Youth Council should be?
- What do you think the goals of the Youth Council should be?
- Who should be on the Youth Council?
- Who in your opinion should oversee and lead the group?
- How often should the group meet?
- What should the relationship between the Youth Council and City Council look like?
To assist the committee in this task, Parks and Recreation Director Bill Sgrinia will research and report on programs used by other cities throughout the nation.
The effort to determine the best ways to engage youths in Danville is part of a multifaceted effort to address gang activity and violent crime. A gang task force and a youth task force were created earlier this year. These task forces have been meeting regularly and will issue reports and recommendations when they complete their work.