The Joplin Youth Council gained eight new members, recognized at the October 5 Joplin City Council meeting. The members come from a collective of four different Joplin area schools, in grades 10-12.
The Youth Council was created in 2019 with the intent of increasing “civic awareness and experience for high school students interested in government and community relations,” according to a City of Joplin news release. The Joplin City Council organized the Joplin Youth Council following a National League of Cities presentation that discussed the importance of having service opportunities available for students who show interest in working with their community. Jane Min, Joplin Youth Council chair, said she believes the Youth Council is “a really good addition to our city.”
“We can really learn a lot about the ins and outs of local politics and government, and you know, just being part of it we can gain so much more insight than just learning about it from outside sources,” Min said. “And, especially being leaders and being team workers are important skills to have anywhere you go, whether you go on to college or you get a job—whether it’s in politics or not—and these are just essential skills that we have had the opportunity to gain as teenagers.”
The new Youth Council members include: Jane Min, chairperson; Kambrea (Kami) Manning, vice-chair and public relations officer; Shrihari (Hari) Nagarajan, secretary; John Wheeler, treasurer; Jake Saunders; Caleb Thomas; Riley Peterson; and Luke Johnson.
The Youth Council’s service projects are aimed toward helping increase awareness of mental health issues due to the current COVID-19 pandemic and to recognize local resources to assist those individuals. One activity the Youth Council will participate in is volunteering at local food pantries and assisting with collections, specifically focusing on hygiene items. They also plan to visit the State Capitol and attend a Missouri Legislative Session in Jefferson City.
“Well, our project this year is about health promotion and this was something that I wanted to do in the past, too, but I just thought this was especially important now with COVID-19 and everything,” Min said. “And it’s just really great for students to get together and, you know, not be behind the scenes but be at the front and giving our voices to better the health and wellbeing of the community.”
Council Member Anthony Monteleone and former Council Member and Mayor Melodee Colbert Kean are liaisons for the advisory board, and Mayor Ryan Stanley is also active with the group. The Youth Council meets twice a month during the school year. Youth Council members must be a Joplin resident and enrolled in grades 10-12; members’ terms last one year, expiring in May, but they may reapply to continue serving.
“It’s only our second year and I feel like we’ve progressed quite a bit since these past two years, and we just hope (to gain) more community support and really do great things in the future,” Min said.