Andrew Trzaska | May 22, 2011
The dozen-plus high school students who are part of Muskegon County’s County Wide Youth Forum (CWYF) have developed a mix of procedure and informality at their meetings that is building camaraderie, and more are invited to join the group.
The first big initiative for the fledgling youth advisory group: June 9th’s End Of School Bash, starting in the afternoon for all students in the county on what is the last day of school for most.
The group is under the advisement of several community leaders including Muskegon city commissioner Clara Shepherd.
The group has had only three full forum meetings since their formation, and is still learning parliamentary procedure, dividing up committees and working on solutions for the community’s concerns, ranging from violence to substance abuse to recreation for young people.
Shepherd explained to the students at Tuesday’s meeting that the group would develop as more people come to the meetings and stressed learning accepted procedure, like Robert’s Rules of Order, was important.
“You’re going to be learning some things. We’re going to teach you how to do this the right way.”
Shepherd also stressed that the officers of the forum and the others who were invited to be a part of the group from each high school in the county are not the only people who should show up; the meetings are open to all youth in the community.
The group meets every third Thursday of the month at 5:30 at Muskegon City Hall.
Even with the learning that is still happening at this stage, the group has begun bonding with each other and communicating with each other, between districts and cities, to get out the word about different upcoming community events.
There were several candid moments of humor at Thursday’s meeting, as participants young and old got talking about things like male/female relationships.
The most immediate events that were discussed included the upcoming Relay For Life event at Reeths-Puffer.
The event runs from June 3 to 4 on the Reeths-Puffer high school track, where teams walk it constantly for 24 hours to raise money for cancer research.
The following week, the CWYF End of School Bash will begin at noon at Clara Shepherd Park.
The Bash will include dancing contests, food, hula hoop and jump rope, plus 3-on-3, 5-on-5 and 3-point shootout basketball events and more.
Shepherd has organized the after-school event for over a decade as a way to counteract the tradition of “Fight Day”, where students would use the afternoon on their last day of school to cause mischief and in some cases, square off physically with each other.
Commissioner Shepherd and the CWYF are expecting 300-400 students to be present, and are still looking for more volunteers to help staff the event. Volunteers must be at the park to set up at 10 a.m.