Create an Account - Increase your productivity, customize your experience, and engage in information you care about.
This month the Hardeeville Youth Council will wrap up its second academic year. Let me introduce you to five outstanding students.
The mayor, Cecia Herrera, a senior from Royal Live Oaks Academy who did a fine job leading the meetings; Gabby Boyles, a junior attending Thomas Heyward Academy, is the Mayor Pro Tempore and an advocate for early reading programs; Zack Doe, the star junior running back of John Paul II; Savannah Spikes, a multi-sport junior athlete from Step of Faith; and Michaela Williams, an exceptionally thoughtful and vocal senior leader from RHHS. Michaela and Savannah served both years.
The Youth Council is formatted to mirror the meetings of the Hardeeville City Council. Topics are discussed, solutions are debated, and resolutions are written. Last year, the group composed two resolutions of vital social interest that were subsequently adopted by the City Council: Anti-littering and anti-distracted driving.
This year the Youth Council tackled two very complex social problems: Nutrition and wellness and bullying. To their credit, these young adults recognized that overweight kids are a frequent target of bullies, and therefore the two problems are often related.
Nutrition and wellness occupied most of the meetings. The students talked about the offerings of meals and vending machines in each of their schools. They discussed the eating habits of their classmates; both at meal time and snacking after school.
They agreed on the need to offer nutritional choices to those who participate in after school activities and sports. They suggested that educational programs and expert guest speakers will help raise awareness of the need to be fit, as well as ways to achieve wellness.
These are the suggestions that are included in their resolution that was sent to each principal:
1. Request for school vending machines to increase healthy choices including but not limited to options for granola bars and nuts.
2. Request for healthier snacks to be provided during after school activities including but not limited to energy bars.
3. Conduct a survey to determine which healthy options students prefer.
4. Invite guest speakers to hold forums on nutrition and exercise
5. Invite guest speakers to hold forums on how to read nutrition information and labels
6. Request for school assemblies to be held which will show videos and provide other information regarding nutrition and wellness.
7. Encourage school cafeterias to include a salad bar that includes healthy choices like fresh fruit, protein shakes, and nuts.
The issue of bullying produced the most animated discussions we’ve ever had. Each council member had strong thoughts regarding the nature of bullying, the reasons why kids bully, some solutions to the problems, and most surprising the prevalence of adult bullying of kids and of kids bullying teachers.
It was enlightening to hear their perspective and their understanding of the need for people to be sensitive to the feelings of others. Because of the seriousness of this social problem, this will be continued into the next academic year; and the group will pass on a solid record to start the conversation when the council begins again in September.
Each year when I first meet the Youth Council members and their families, I set the goal to learn what our young people are thinking and what their hopes are for the future. Because they are the future of Hardeeville and the Lowcountry and they don’t think the same way as their parents and grandparents. They have their own life experiences, far different from those of my generation, and face challenges that didn’t exist even 25 years ago.
So how can we make good decisions that affect their future unless we ask them to share their thoughts and to listen?
The Hardeeville Youth Council has given the city a valuable asset that we can use to lay the foundation of a prosperous future for our children and our grandchildren. Please join me in thanking Cecia, Gabby, Zack, Savannah and Michaela and wish them every success in whatever path they choose.
Harry Williams is the mayor of the city of Hardeeville.