First-ever San Tan Valley Youth Advisory Council meeting focuses on improving community

‘I play a bigger part (in my community) than I thought,’ said one student

 

More than 35 high school and middle school student leaders from Circle Cross Ranch School, Skyline Ranch, Walker Butte, American Leadership Academy-Ironwood, Combs High School, Poston Butte High School and San Tan Foothills participated in the inaugural San Tan Valley Youth Advisory Council meeting on Nov. 17. (Special to the Independent/Central Arizona College)

 

The first annual San Tan Valley Youth Advisory Council was held Friday, Nov. 17, at the Central Arizona College San Tan Campus, 3736 E. Bella Vista Road in San Tan Valley.

More than 35 high school and middle school student leaders from Circle Cross Ranch School, Skyline Ranch, Walker Butte, American Leadership Academy-Ironwood, Combs High School, Poston Butte High School and San Tan Foothills participated. CAC’s Student Government Association provided leadership for the group activities.

Mike Goodman, Pinal County Supervisor for District 2, welcomed the students and explained that after taking office in January, he began to research the issues and strengths of Pinal County and San Tan Valley.

As part of this process, a survey was sent to local schools and students were asked what recommendations they had to improve their community.

Themes and goals emerged

Four broad themes stood out, including: offering more community activities and opportunities for youth and families; improving transportation and increasing business options; becoming more unified as a community; and enhancing landscaping and scenery.

Based on the themes discovered during the survey process, four San Tan Valley goals emerged:

  • Public resources: Understanding and meeting citizen needs to improve quality of life.
  • Growth and development: Promoting growth and development by establishing necessary infrastructure.
  • Unity: Creating opportunities that unify our community toward influencing positive change.
  • Communication: Enhancing transparency and better managing distribution of information.

Supervisor Goodman told the students, “You are why we are here. We need your help. The youth of our generation will make or break our communities, state and nation.”

Pinal County staff, representing all departments, provided a county overview skit to help students understand how processes work within the county and how departments work together with community members to meet their needs.

Students were divided into four groups based on the San Tan Valley goals.

During the first session, they met with county leaders and identified problems or issues within each area. Following lunch, the students returned to their groups and discussed actions to address each issue.

Student comments about the event

When asked about the opportunity to be a part of the first ever San Tan Valley Youth Advisory Council, students had many positive comments to share.

•Paige Arriaga, a junior at Combs High School who participated in the Unity group, stated, “I like coming to these events. It is about being committed to the community. It helps me to know more about my community and how I can help.”

•Zoey Linderholm, a sophomore at ALA-Ironwood echoed her sentiments. “It has been great to be able to talk to other schools. We have to make it happen to make our community great like we want it to be.”

•Andrew Dalmacia, an eighth-grader at Magma Ranch who participated in the growth and development group added, “It was great to have the older generation talking with the younger generation and learning how we can make our community better.”

•George Rascon, a senior at San Tan Foothills and member of the communications group explained, “Today has encouraged me to do more for my community. It gave me a sense that I’m part of the community and my voice is taken seriously. I play a bigger part than I thought.”

A follow-up questionnaire will be provided to the students who participated and they will be asked to provide their input on suggested next steps and what direction the county should take.

Additional meetings will be held with the students to continue to discuss solutions that can be incorporated into the county’s action plan.

Supervisor Goodman plans to make this an annual event.

Editor’s note: Angela Askey is the executive director of public relations and marketing for Central Arizona College.

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