GHAC giving youth a bigger voice

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The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow, and the Greater Hilltop Area Commission wants to make sure that they have a voice.

The idea of the Hilltop Youth Commission first began about five years ago in the Public Safety Committee of the GHAC, according to commissioner Justin Boggs, who serves as chair of the committee.

That idea is finally coming to life. The GHAC hopes to have the first members of the youth commission selected by the start of summer.

“It’s taken a lot of time and energy to get it off of the ground,” said Boggs.

The youth commission will serve as ambassadors, both to their schools and the community. They will promote “sound values, awareness, identity, self-respect and cultural awareness in the community they live in and represent,” according to the application.

“This is a way for us to get input on what’s effecting the youth and come up with solutions. There are some important issues in the Hilltop. I think safety is a huge issue. They may come up with some unique ideas.” Said Boggs.

The youth commission will be open to any high school student who will be in the ninth through twelfth grades for the 2008-09 academic year, and who live within the boundaries of the Hilltop area. These boundaries are I-70 on the north, I-270 on the west and south, and the railroad tracks west of Harrisburg Pike on the east.

This area includes students from West, Franklin Heights, Briggs and Bishop Ready high schools. It also includes any student living in the area who is home-schooled or attends a private or charter school.

Students elected to the commission will perform several duties. Those duties include getting other youth more involved in the community, helping to make the Hilltop a better place to lead, and working as a go-between between their peers and the GHAC.

They will also be required to attend youth commission meetings monthly, as well as the regular meetings of the GHAC.

What is discussed in the monthly meetings of the youth commission will be determined by members of the youth commission, according to Boggs.

“We’ll give them guidance, but they have to decide where to take this,” he added.

Eventually, the GHAC hopes this initiative will add up to another vote at their meetings.

According to Boggs, one member from the youth commission will eventually have a seat on the GHAC if everything goes as planned.

How they decide what member gets to take that seat, however, will up to the commission.

This seat won’t be awarded anytime soon.  First, each member will have to go through training and complete projects over the summer months.

Training will include a course on Robert’s Rules of Order. They can also expect some guest speakers from the local government.

“I’d like to have someone in here from Columbus Council, maybe the City Attorney’s Office,” said Boggs, “This is going to be a way to help them build contacts with other agencies and organizations within the community.”

The GHAC also hopes that the youth commission will serve as a way to get more interested in local politics. 

“I would love to see some of these members move on to politics,” said Boggs.

Interested students can print an application from the GHAC Web site, www.theghac.com. Applications are due May 19.

Boggs stressed that grades will not be a factor in selecting members of the youth commission. Instead, they are looking for dedicated students with a passion for their community and a desire to make a difference.

“Our main goal here is to give these youth a voice see what they have to say,” he added.

Once all applications have been received, a public meeting will be held to review those applications. A committee made up of GHAC members, school administration and members of the community will select the members. Twelve students will be selected. There is not yet a date set for this public meeting.

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