GREENFIELD – A new student-led organization seeks to give youth a voice in the direction of city projects.
Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell has launched the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council in an effort to open a dialogue between young people and city officials. City leaders hope by giving Greenfield’s youth a say in city plans, students will be more likely to return home after college.
With the school year nearing, members of the board have now elected their officers and are preparing to start working on projects.
The 14-member group comprises rising sophomores, juniors and seniors at Greenfield-Central High School. Once school starts, organizers will add a few freshmen to the group, Fewell said.
Students applied to join the organization; they had to show they are in good academic standing and dedicated to seeing the program through. Leaders hope once students join, they will stay committed through graduation, Fewell said.
Members will undergo leadership training, meet monthly to create a vision for Greenfield’s future they hope will ultimately be added to city plans and assist with local projects, including the new splash pad at Riley Park Pool. They’ll take on smaller projects, too, including redesigning the city’s flag.
It’s the first group of its kind in Hancock County and one of several mayor’s councils across the state, Fewell said.
Fewell said he invited high-schoolers to join the council because he wanted to reach students preparing for life after high school; he wants them to feel invested in their hometown in hopes they’ll return to Hancock County to start a career and raise a family.
Newly elected youth council president Elaine Hilton, an incoming junior, said she’s eager to assist city leaders with various projects. She’s already taking the initiative to learn more about her community, she said. She is so excited about the splash pad project, and an overall plan to renovate Riley Park Pool, that she got a job there this summer to learn as much as she can about the people who use the pool and what amenities they would like to see added.
It makes sense for city leaders to consider youth when making decisions, Elaine said, because eventually, today’s young people will be the people filling the role of mayor and city council members.
Her parents are thrilled she’s getting the chance to be involved in her hometown early, her mom, Christy Hilton, said. It’s a great opportunity — one she’s grateful Elaine will have, Hilton said.
Consulting students will give city leaders a wider audience for projects, ordinances and decisions they’ll consider, she said.
As president, she hopes to help other students feel more comfortable working with adults and voicing their opinions, which can be intimidating for teens, she said.
“It’s nice we’re going to have a say,” she said. “It’s an amazing opportunity to shape the future of Greenfield.”
The Greenfield Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council is made up of 14 Greenfield-Central High School students who will help city leaders make plans for Greenfield’s future.
Students involved are: