The city of Sun Valley is looking for a few good kids—seven to be precise, who would constitute a new youth council to advise city officials on matters concerning young people.
The concept is the brainchild of Community School sophomore Taylor Adler, who is not even working on it as a school project but is doing it voluntarily.
In an interview Wednesday, Adler said a youth council would not only provide youth insights into city government matters, but would also teach young people about the workings of city government.
"I don't know a lot of kids who know how our local government works," Adler said. "This is a chance for them to find out how it works."
Sun Valley officials seem enthusiastic about the proposal, which was first presented to them in March. Since then, Adler and Mayor Dewayne Briscoe have been ironing out policies and procedures to make the proposal a reality.
Briscoe said Wednesday that he expects City Council approval on May 17.
"We're doing what we can to facilitate it immediately," the mayor said.
Adler isn't just looking for Sun Valley kids to staff what he is calling the Sun Valley Youth Council. At the suggestion of City Council members, he's also soliciting students from Wood River and Silver Creek high schools and from the private Sage School in Hailey.
"I'm extremely pleased that they've chosen Sun Valley City Council to be involved with," Briscoe said. "They could have chosen any city government in the valley but I'm glad they chose us."
He said youth advice on matters affecting young people will be a benefit to city government.
"We're an older community and we don't have a lot of kids in the community," Briscoe said. "I want the youth to feel that they have some voice in government and that they're heard. I think they'll become more involved if they know they have a voice."
Adler said he was inspired to propose a youth council by discussions about current events in his school history class.
He said he studied existing youth advisory councils in the cities of Caldwell and Pocatello to come up with a plan.
His proposal is more than just an idea. Adler has crafted a professional-looking written proposal, an application form complete with teacher recommendation and parental consent attachments, and a four-page set of by-laws describing the purpose of the advisory council, how it would be organized, general rules of membership, duties of members and how the advisory council would interact with the City Council.
Adler expects to be a member of the advisory council and even has aspirations to be its president.
He said students selected to serve on the advisory council should plan to spend about 10 hours a month in civic service.
Adler said he expects to set up orientation sessions to provide the rudiments of city government to new advisory council members. Some members of the group will be required to attend regular City Council meetings. Advisory council meetings may be called by any member or by the mayor or City Council.
Adler said he anticipates that the advisory council will provide input on environmental and education issues, on youth recreation and on underage drinking and substance abuse.
"This is a great learning opportunity," Adler said. "It's also an opportunity to have a say in what the city does. If one kid could make an impact, what could seven people do?"
In addition to providing youth opinions in City Council decisions, Briscoe said the youth advisory council will hopefully become a training ground for future government leaders.
"This will give them some insight into getting involved in the process," Briscoe said. "One of these kids may be sitting in this office in 20 years."
Terry Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to join?
Applications to join a proposed Sun Valley Youth Council have been distributed at area high schools, but are also available at the city of Sun Valley website at sunvalley.govoffice.com. The deadline for applying is May 11. For more information, contact Community School sophomore Taylor Adler at (208) 721-2168 or email@example.com.