Youth of the community speak out
By Sarah Morris for the Mandan News
Among the various rooms in Mandan City Hall, young adults gathered together to discuss ways to improve and impact their community. Even though they were enclosed in a building on an evening during summer vacation, their voices were not confined.
The Mandan Youth Commission met for its final meeting of the summer on June 17. Mandan Mayor Arlyn Van Beek gave encouraging words to the Youth Commission at the start of the meeting.
“It’s exciting to see you get involved in your community at such a young age because ultimately, it is the youth of today that leads us to tomorrow,” said Van Beek.
Dot Frank, city commissioner, and Jim Neubauer, city administrator, helped to guide the 11 people in the organization throughout the 2012-2013 meetings of the Youth Commission.
“This was our first year so it was a learning process for us and for them,” said Frank.
While learning how to have formal meetings and finding their voice among the community, these young adults have figured out new and refreshing possibilities for Mandan.
“For this year, we wanted to focus on recycling, an adult playground, making Christmas ornaments in grade schools, and places for families to spend time together,” Taylor Glass, an at- large member, said. “It is really cool to know that you are coming up with different ideas to improve the community.”
The adult playground, now just a hopeful plan for the future, took the youth on a journey of investigating the importance that it would have on the public.
“The Youth Commission went and presented to the Park Board at a Park Board meeting this past year the (adult playground) concept, and then also shared some statistics regarding the impact that an adult playground could have on youth and young adults in the community,” said Frank.
The idea of an outdoor gym to benefit the physical and mental well-being of those who would use it would include aspects like adult sized monkey bars, arm bikes, balance beams and other workout objects.
“If they (the park board) do explore expanding the number of parks in the community, they will know in the back of their minds that they have to remember that the youth came forth with this adult concept,” said Frank.
Coming up with projects and ideas helps to express the creativity of the young adults, but the Youth Commission also gives them something far more lasting: respect.
“What I’ve really enjoyed about the Youth Commission,” said Cole Garman, who attends Mandan High, “is that we are treated like our opinion matters, and that doesn’t happen much for teenagers, so it’s very refreshing.”
Courtney Goetz has been the first chairperson on the committee, and she enjoys being involved in the community while also gathering leadership skills. She, as well as Garman, knows that young people can really make a stand.
“I have learned that youth of this community really are interested in what goes on here and making where we live a better place,” Goetz said.
The Youth Commission will be starting its meetings again in August, and there will be a middle school and high school opening with the possibility of two at-large openings for anyone who wants to participate. If interested, contact Dot Frank at email@example.com or the City of Mandan at 667-3215.
“I’m really excited,” Frank said. “I think that year two is really where we are going to take off and see some action.”