KINGSBURG – When it comes to brainstorming ideas about kid-friendly activities, events and businesses in town, Kingsburg officials are going straight to the source to find out what kids want.

Mayor Michelle Roman hosted the first Kingsburg’s Youth Council meeting Oct. 24 at the City Hall Chambers and wants even more young residents to attend the next session.

“I think we started off with some great ideas,” Roman said after the first session. “I love to listen to them and hear them talk with each other. Even one of our youngest has some great simple ideas that can make such an impact here in town.”

Roman said she got feedback from local students at Kingsburg High about whether having a Youth Council would fly and said there was definite interest. And rather than guess what activities would draw kids out to be more involved, she said it’s just more practical to hear from the students themselves.

“Some people grumble about kids, but it’s the opposite. Kingsburg is their community and they really want to get involved. What I hear over and over again is that they want to participate.”

After first explaining how Kingsburg City Council meetings are run and how some of the commissions in town help decide about what activities take place throughout the year, Roman gave attendees an update on current projects already underway.

While volleyball courts and horse-shoe pits are ready to be installed at Memorial Park, the larger project of building a skate park is awaiting more grant funds before it can be completed, she said.

“We’re $27,000 short to open the park. We’d applied for the last bit of funding but it didn’t come through. We were really disappointed, but like anything else, we’re charging through,” Roman said. The City has already applied for other grants to get the rest of the needed funds for the skate park.

During the meeting, the group brainstormed some short-term and long-term projects that would appeal to local youths. Some of these include:

  • Movie house or movies in the park for youth and older teens
  • Concerts in the park
  • Open-mic nights
  • Coffee or smoothie shops
  • Citywide youth concerts and performing arts events
  • Job boards specifically for teens
  • Amusement park
  • A bowling alley
  • Ongoing student art shows; student murals
  • Youth-related businesses
  • Longer and weekend hours for businesses

The group also thought of ways to get information out to students about the council and all the upcoming events they plan. They’re also still thinking of a catchy phrase to use for a specific hashtag and website page to publicize their events.

Christine Hovnanian saw a Facebook post about the meeting and brought her two children to the meeting. Her son Aidan Hovnanian had just come up with some community service project ideas and she thought this would be a good venue to kick start the tasks. Aidan’s projects included having citywide garbage clean ups, visiting the elderly, creating homeless care kits, visiting children in the hospital and bringing treats, thank you notes and goodies to local firefighters and police.

“I just feel like kids should get a chance in actually helping out the town,” Aidan said about his motivation to attend the Council. To encourage even more youth to participate, he said kids should realize their ideas will be heard if they attend. “Get involved, help out and don’t feel like you can’t do anything.”

Hovnanian grew up in Kingsburg and said she understands what it’s like to have a limited number of activity options. She’s hoping the Youth Council will help change that.

“This is their town. As they get older, they really will appreciate Kingsburg so I hope they get involved.”

Hovnanian said she also hopes other families get involved as it would benefit the next generation to learn about community service early.

“We want to teach [our children] to grow up and do those things to help other people. There are so many people out there that need help. Even the little kids, their moms can bring them. This generation needs to learn that. A lot of kids don’t do that stuff anymore so I was surprised when [Aidan] did it by himself,” she said of coming up with service ideas.

Kingsburg High student Ben Nicholas also attended and said he hopes other kids in town get on board so city leaders will make decisions with them in mind.

“I’d just like a larger amount of younger voices represented in the community and to have the town know directly what the youth want and what we’re asking for, rather than having to theorize it and second-guess what we’re asking for,” he said. “It’s great for kids to get into their local government and figure out what’s going on. I think it definitely encourages kids to be responsible, be held accountable and be pro-active in their community.”

Roman said she was pleased with the turnout and the ideas the students came up and is hoping even more get involved.

“Once we get the social media sites up, you’ll see even more kids participating through that,” she said about effort to advertise the Council and events. “I’m really excited to see what the next meeting holds, the direction it’ll take off and where it we’ll go to next. Everybody should come and bring their ideas.”

Youth Council meetings are planned to be monthly and typically will be at 6:30 p.m. on the third Tuesdays of the month. Because of a school scheduling conflict, however, the next meeting will be Nov. 28.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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