(Members of the Ivanhoe Youth Advisory Committee. Photo: Mayra Becerra, Ivanhoe Community Council)
A new youth group is formed to support young community leaders in Ivanhoe
By:Esmeralda Garcia, Ivanhoe Sol
Supporting youth within Ivanhoe has been an increasing concern with local community advocates, but there has been minimal opportunities for youth to meaningfully engage outside of the school setting. With the start of a new year, the Ivanhoe Youth Advisory Committee has been created by the Ivanhoe Community Council to allow Ivanhoe‘s youth to have a safe place in which they can voice their opinions, develop interpersonal skills, build relationships, and learn how to take action to address their concerns in the community they live in.
Current Ivanhoe Youth Advisory Committee members include: Daizzy,Jose Alberto, Marvin, Moses, Jesus, Stephen, Genesis, Chris, Savannah, Ezra, Nayeli, and Arely. These students represent various perspectives in the community and attend various schools in the area including: College of the Sequoias, Golden West High School, Valley Oak Middle School, Ivanhoe Elementary School, Golden Oak Elementary School and Cutler-Orosi. Any youth who resides in Ivanhoe is invited to participate.
These meetings are held virtually through Zoom and are hosted by Ivanhoe Community Council’s Chairperson, Mayra Becerra. Meetings started in January and are held twice a month, on Tuesday evenings at 6PM. Becerra says, “We are reaching out to our youth because everything we do is for them. Their ideas and visions are valuable to us. The future of Ivanhoe belongs to them.”
Youth Vision for a Better Ivanhoe
According participants, the first meetings for the Youth Advisory Council were designed to identify priorities for future improvements in the community. Their answers varied but included a strong agreement for more sidewalks, development of a skate park, more youth sport options, in-person community events, a movie drive-in, and a community center. Members have also had the opportunity to express ideas on what they would like their meetings to include in order to make their meetings more fun, engaging, and inclusive. With their input, future meetings will include more personal check-in discussions, arts and crafts, and interactive games.
At the most recent meeting held on Tuesday, February 16th, the main focus was developing teamwork skills while designing an ideal skate park for Ivanhoe. Youth had input on the name and design of the park and location on everything they wanted in the park. A walk way/ trail circling around the entire park for safe walking for community members and pets, skate ramps in the center of the park and basketball courts are just a few of the activities envisioned as part of the park. A simple blueprint was designed and will be finalized with color by Jose Alberto a Senior at Golden West High School.
This program also allows for additional leadership responsibilities. For example Stephen, a 7th grade student at Valley Oak volunteered to attend Ivanhoe Community Council’s February meeting as a representative for Ivanhoe’s Youth Advisory Committee. He will take notes and share information with his peers at their next youth meeting.
Opportunities for Youth Engagement
There are currently several youth, oriented opportunities for community members to participate in. For example, Ivanheo youth can submit artwork and nominations for this year’s Tulare County Women of the Year Awards to celebrate Women’s History Month. Other opportunities include creating rock art for the Mini Library and accessing scholarship opportunities through Golden West High School’s main web page.
Starting March 1st, the Tulare County Area Transit (TCat) will also offer free rides to youth riders between the ages 7-18 with a K-12 student ID or any government issued ID with date of birth.
Ivanhoe youth are an essential part to our community and are truly valued for their efforts in commitment, involvement and leadership to help improve Ivanhoe. Ivanhoe’s youth are our future, let’s invest in them today.
If you are interested in participating in the Ivanhoe Youth Advisory Council, please call or text contact Mayra Becerra at (559) 468-6253.