As the end of the 2013-2014 school year comes to a close, so do certain youth activities. This year The Mayors’ Youth Action Council YAC, a civic engagement program for Knox county high school students, is coming to an end.
Since its inception in 2004, YAC has furthered youth involvement in the community and schools. In 2007, the students proposed the creation of a youth representative on the Knox County Board of Education. This brought a new, young perspective to the Board of Education allowing students to have representation and a voice in important educational decisions.
Other accomplishments have been:
- developing curriculum on local government for the mandatory high school government classes
- creating and hosting a series of youth summits and days of service
- creating awareness of the challenges of disabilities
- the risks of having a baby born drug dependent
- the responsibility to participate in recycling
As the only student group representing all schools in Knox County, YAC was often called upon by community groups interested in hearing youth opinions. Among these were: Knoxville Area Chamber Partnership, Knox County Board of Education, Cornerstone Foundation, KCCPTA, Great Schools Partnership and many others.
Mayor Madeline Rogero was in attendance as MDC celebrated the accomplishments of the group, both past and present at the annual end of year celebration in May at Victor Ashe Park.
While YAC may be phasing out, the students who have participated over the years as well as the community has benefitted greatly from the important work this group has accomplished. The Metropolitan Drug Commission has been working with Leadership Knoxville to establish a “Youth Leadership Knoxville” class that will begin in July and provide up to 50 Knox County rising juniors the opportunity to learn about their community and develop invaluable leadership skills. This program fits well under the umbrella of Leadership Knoxville.
The MDC is transitioning to establishing SADD chapters in high schools to focus more directly on reducing risky behaviors.
“We were so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with so many very talented young people through the Youth Action Council,” stated Karen Pershing, MDC Executive Director. “The transition to a true leadership development model is very exciting and we look forward to working with Leadership Knoxville on their new youth program.”