Mayor’s Cabinet on Youth
Wednesday, October 29, 2008 – 3:00 p.m.
Mayor Brown, Pete Haga, Pat Berger, Mary Lien, Larry Nybladh, Betty Otteson, John Packett, John Staley, Deb Thompson, Jerry Yougberg, Barry Wilfhart.
The Mayor welcomed the cabinet members and asked each of them to introduce themselves and state whom they represent.
II. Introduction of Dr. Nybladh
Dr. Larry Nybladh, newly appointed Supt. of Schools, was present and gave a brief biography of himself and his thoughts on the upcoming year.
Mayor Brown explained that the Cabinet was established to put together a pool of adults from the community that work with a variety of youth issues in an effort to look at ways to make youth in the community know that they are valued and cared about and to improve the life of youth in the community.
Mayor Brown commented on the recently released results of the Youth Risk Survey that was taken in the schools and that he was particularly disturbed by the results of the question that indicates most youth feel that the adults in the community do not care about them. He stated that his hope is that the Youth Commission can perhaps act as a vehicle to address this and provide opinions on ways to change that response. Berger inquired whether there are similar questions on surveys done in other communities and if so are their results similar to ours. Lien stated that she did not know, but that a lot of districts do not conduct their own survey, but rather rely on the statewide survey, however Grand Forks has elected to complete their own survey in years that the state survey is not done. She added that we have done our own for a number of years and like to keep the history building as a measure to how youth are changing.
Wilfhart asked how the survey data is used by the school district. Lien stated that it has been used as a part of strategic planning model.
Youngberg asked whether a follow-up question could be done to find out why the youth responded the way that they did. Lien stated that it would be hard to do that now and liked the idea of using the Youth Commission.
III. Organization of 2008-2009 Youth Commission
Mayor Brown stated that the purpose of the commission is to engage youth in the community and is hoping to add a larger service learning component to the group this year.
Haga stated that he will be meeting with the School Principals at their monthly meeting on November 12 to get their buy-in to the group again this year. He will also stress our gratitude for the assistance that we got from counselors and teachers that assisted with transportation, etc. last year. The group will continue to be made up of 3 students from each middle school and 4 from each high school. He noted that we felt a lot of excitement from members last year and the hope is that we build on that momentum this year with some returning members. Lien stated that it would be great to see more involvement at the school level as well. The group talked about the possibilities of having meetings at each school and making sure to get the word to a diverse group of students to get the best sounding board for opinions.
Nybladh suggested that it would be a good idea for them to set a vision statement, which then might identify ways that they could become involved in the community. He noted that there is always a shortage of volunteers that agencies could use and perhaps getting the youth active now will lead them to continue as they age into adulthood. Berger stated that those that do volunteer report great satisfaction as well as developing a connection and feeling of belonging with those they work as well as with the community.
The group discussed ways to get the youth excited about volunteerism. Lien gave a brief report on the Helping Hands pilot that was going on at South this year and how it was the kids that volunteered over the summer that asked to be able to continue into the school year and are now looking at also expanding into Red River. She added that they have an entrepreneur student at UND that has been working with this group.
Consensus of the group was to try and get at least the old members of the commission together prior to December to get things rolling. Other ideas were the creation of a newsletter for each school, to get inserts together and in the school newsletters that go out to parents, to post information on Channel 15, to post information on the School and City Website. Nybladh thought it would also be helpful to get a list of community volunteer needs together that the students could review. The group discussed that the opportunities should be “youth friendly” and appropriate for the youth to take on. A suggestion was made that maybe if there were some funds available to allocate to youth projects could have the youth make the decision on how to allocate them or to select the projects that are funded. Haga stated that as an America’s Promise City, there is a State Farm Program that offers micro grants to youth or teachers for youth related projects, maybe also using group like Community Foundation to assist with donor dollars or pooling them together.
IV. 100 Best Communities for Young People
Haga announced that the City has received the designation as one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People for the third straight row. He distributed a CD-rom of the submission and a booklet that includes information on the 100 cities selected.
The group discussed other potential members to which to extend an invitation to join this group. Potential names were Kristi Nelson, UND Director of Community Connection and GF Herald rep from teen page.
Nybladh noted that they have passed a resolution to try and increase the use of Channel 15 and possibly adding info on the Youth Commission could be done.
John Staley stated that he was recently at a conference where discussion of youth obesity was held. One of the leading causes that is being attributed is the decline in unstructured play for youth and trying to find a way around that. Nybladh stated that the school district has received an EB White grant to deal with nutrition and physical education within the school district and perhaps look at adding the coordinator of that grant to the Cabinet would also be appropriate.
Another suggestion for a new member is the Youth Coordinator for the LaGrave Learning Center.
The group discussed that at the meeting scheduled on November 19, invite returning youth commission members and view the powerpoint presentation prepared by Mary Lien on the results of the youth risk survey, with discussion to occur with the youth on the results. The meeting will be at 11:30 a.m. with lunch provided.