Commissioners gave their blessing and support to the development of a Forsyth County Board of Commissioners’ Youth Council during the work session on Tuesday, Dec. 8. The BOC approved allowing the county staff to support this project in the future.
Vinayak Menon, a sophomore at Lambert High School and youth councilmember worked alongside Tammi Bramblett, executive director of Leadership Forsyth, and District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills to hatch their plan for the BOC Youth Council.
“Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, getting sponsors and doing it through the schools and trying to overcomplicate it, we decided [to] do something through our youth leadership that already exists,” Mills said.
The BOC Youth Council application process will be open and available to high school juniors who are members of Youth Leadership Forsyth. The application will include a three- or four-part essay and a rubric with standards attached.
“I know that our Youth Leadership Forsyth students will represent this first … inaugural council very well,” Bramblett said. “…These are incredible emerging leaders with a huge heart for community and leadership.”
Because the BOC Youth Council wishes to have an even spread of students representing each district in Forsyth County, a question about each of the students’ county commissioners will be included in the application.
Bramblett also reached out to adult members of Leadership Forsyth to ask for volunteers to read each essay and score them before creating a roster of students admitted to the program. Among the signed-up volunteers is District 2 Commissioner Dennis Brown.
“We hope to have by the end of January that roster established so that the program can kick off in February,” Bramblett said.
With COVID-19 still an ongoing issue pervading the community, Menon and Bramblett decided that each of the BOC Youth Council’s meetings will be through a virtual platform. They also decided that Sunday afternoons or evenings would be the best fit for the youth’s busy schedules. The meetings will take place once a month.
The entire goal of the BOC Youth Council is for students to understand and get more involved in local government, Menon expressed, and to help students know the differences between city and county government along with giving the youth a voice and a means to express opinions.
“A lot of what you [commissioners] do has an impact on the youth and I think it’s important for [the youth] to have an opinion and a say on that,” Menon said.
The BOC Youth Council also hopes to inspire students to get more involved in the local community through the program, and they are planning on allowing the organization to be student-led by the junior high school students. Menon will be the exception.
“I’m happy that it’s being student-led,” Mills said. “I wanted to support [Vinayak] because he’s so excited about doing it. We wanted him to be a part of it because he had the idea.”
“I think it’s great,” District 1 Commissioner Molly Cooper said. “And I’m so glad to see you [Vinayak] show such an interest. It’s encouraging and I’m inspired.”
Commissioners showed their support for the new development, voting to allow county staff to give the BOC Youth Council its full support.