Photos courtesy city of Covington’s Facebook page
                                The Covington Youth Council attended Youth Action Days in Olympia Jan. 27 and 28. The teens attended various workshops and learned how to effectively meet with legislators and lobby issues. The youth council were able to meet with representatives from the 47th district — Pat Sullivan, Mona Das and Debra Entenman.

Photos courtesy city of Covington’s Facebook page The Covington Youth Council attended Youth Action Days in Olympia Jan. 27 and 28. The teens attended various workshops and learned how to effectively meet with legislators and lobby issues. The youth council were able to meet with representatives from the 47th district — Pat Sullivan, Mona Das and Debra Entenman.

Youth council: Building leaders

Youth in Covington are gaining a voice

The Covington Youth Council is fairly new to the city, but already the youth members have done a lot with the little time that they’ve had so far.

Karla Slate, communications and marketing manager for Covington said the Youth Council started in June 2017.

She said it was something the Covington City Council had built into their goals, vision and mission — to develop a youth council to give the youth in the community a voice.

The idea for the Youth Council came from the Covington City Manager, Regan Bolli, according to Jaquelyn Ball, the staff contact for Covington Youth Council.

The Youth Council like any new idea, started off slow, according to Slate.

“We had a couple of applicants, but prior to that the city itself, we didn’t have a lot of contact with the youth in the community. There wasn’t really a steady contact stream between the youth. So we were just beginning and learning how to do it as well,” she explained. “We out to the high school and spoke with leadership students and that kind of thing to try to encourage applications. When we got applications in the council started appointing people. It wasn’t all at once. It was we get an application, There would interview them and decide to appoint them or not. They might of been three or four initially.”

Ball said it was hard to find youth that would make the time commitment.

There are 15 seats on the youth council and only nine of them are currently filled, she said.

To apply for the youth council, Ball said a students ages 15 to 18 go to the Covington Youth Council page and apply there. Then, the city council will go through the applications and choose who to interview.

According to Kentwood junior Alayna Galfo, Vice Chair of Youth Council, the interviewing process can be daunting, but said it’s not too bad.

“I know the interview is intimidating, but it was probably one of the easier parts because it’s more of casual talk. Just be yourself and be able to talk,” Galfo said.

Just like the adult city council, each youth council member serves a term. But instead of four year terms, they serve one year terms, Slate said.

During that one year terms, youth council members are expected to attend the meetings they have once a month.

Ball said the youth basically talk about planning for upcoming events and events the youth want to do.

“They talk about how youth can be involved in the local government so they come up with activities and different ways they could make that happen,” Slate explained. “They’re working to increase volunteerism, they’ve had an open house to try to get more high school students involved and they decide on what activities they’re going to do throughout the year.”

Galfo said they like to plan events for kids and that she thinks it’s really fun to have creative ideas that she is able to share in safe space.

So far, the youth council has participated in events like the Covington Tree Lighting, the Covington Chamber of Commerce Fall Festival and Youth Action Days in Olympia, Slate said.

Youth Action Days is hosted by the Legislative Youth Advisory Council (LYAC). The event takes place in Olympia and is where youth council are invited to make meaningful policy recommendations to Washington Legislatures, according to the LYAC website.

Ball said the youth council is a great opportunity because it gives the youth in Covington a chance to express make a difference.

This is why Kentlake Senior Taye Ansah, Chair of Youth Council, said he joined the youth council.

“There wasn’t a lot of youth engagement in covington. I wanted to do something to change because there’s not a lot of stuff for youth to do in Covington,” Ansah said.

Galfo said she joined because she wanted to find a way to get involved in the community and get our of her comfort zone.

“I feel like they have so much energy and they’re ready to take on the world,” Ball said.

Currently, the Covington Youth Council is looking for new members.

If you are a Covington resident between the ages of 15 and 18, go to covingtonwa.gov/city_government/covingtonyouthcouncil.php to apply.

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Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in a neighborhood near you. You can read more of her writing on her website livingwithgleigh.com. To see her columns come to life, follow her on Facebook at Living with Gleigh by Gretchen Leigh.
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