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Youth speak to Arizona legislators
Written by Greg Ruland   
Wednesday, 21 September 2011 00:00

Cottonwood Youth Advisory Commission hosted a presentation for government leaders in Phoenix to explain how the city commission became so popular with Mingus Union High School students.

Cottonwood Youth Advisory Council members Emma Schraner, left, and Andrew Hickey recall Sept. 7 their experiences speaking to Arizona State Legislature on Aug. 31, regarding the positive programs they and other YAC members have developed for young people through their participation on the council.Commissioners talked with several government leaders at the League of Arizona Cities and Towns annual conference Aug. 31, including U.S. Sen. John McCain [R-Ariz.] and Arizona Rep. Andy Tobin [R-District 1], among others.

MUHS seniors Andrew Hickey, who served three years on the commission, and Emma Schraner, who served two, said it was exciting to speak with elected leaders, especially McCain, who apparently needed a geography lesson.

“He tried to tell us he lived in Sedona,” Schraner said. “We told him he actually lives in Cornville.”

Aside from speaking truth to power, Schraner said the commission described why it succeeds at encouraging participation in commission activities.

Far more students apply to become members of the commission than the number of available positions allow, commission adviser Hezekiah Allen said.

Currently, 13 students serve. Many applied more than once to get on the commission, said Hickey, who serves as vice president.

The group is responsible for helping City Council understand issues important to local children, Allen said.

Hickey said he was proudest of some of the special events the commission hosted during his tenure, including a Valentine’s Day dinner dance at Verde Valley Senior Center that was right on target for those who attended.

“There’s big band music. There’s food and snacks. We sit with them at their table. They teach us how they used to dance. It’s great to watch the seniors up and moving around and having fun,” Hickey said.

In addition to hosting dances, the commissioners held free movie nights and mentored other Cottonwood youngsters through their work with Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Arizona.

Commissioners volunteered more than 100 hours of community service during Christmas season 2010 providing 50 Verde Valley children with hand-wrapped gifts, including seven children from Verde Valley Sanctuary who were living with a parent attempting to separate from an abusive spouse.

They host fundraisers to help pet owners cover the cost of spay and neutering their pets. They participate in the annual Relay For Life and sponsor the city’s summer youth camp.

Both commissioners said their time and experience with the commission gives them a big advantage when they apply for college starting in 2012.

For more information, call 639-3200.


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