The Clermont Youth Council took action during Legislative Action Days; they went to Tallahassee to meet state legislators. The city of Clermont took the teens to the annual Youth Council Civic Education Days in March.
“The City of Clermont is glad to invest in tomorrow’s leaders,” City Manager Darren Gray says. “The Clermont Youth Council embodies the Champion spirit as passionate leaders in the community.”
The group included 27 young people from Clermont, Dade City, Haines City, Hollywood, Largo, and Titusville. Eight members represented Clermont led by Youth Council Sponsor and City Clerk Tracy Ackroyd Howe. “This opportunity strengthened our Youth Council,” Tracy says. “I’m proud of them.”
Not only did the young people connect with state leaders, they had opportunity to exchange ideas with other youth councils, which gave their council stronger unity.
After marching to Florida’s capitol to meet with legislators, the Clermont Youth Council visited the offices of Sen. Kelli Stargel, whose district covers parts of Lake and Polk counties; and Rep. Anthony Sabatini, whose district covers part of Lake County. Rep. Sabatini also introduced them to Reps. Robert “Alex” Andrade and David Smith.
A prestigious welcome was presented by Tallahassee Mayor John Daley and Leo Longworth, president of the Florida League of Cities. Courtney Thomas, director of external affairs in the Mayor’s Office; and Diane Williams-Cox, Tallahassee commissioner, also addressed the group.
As part of their learning and development, Scott Paine, director of leadership development and education for the Florida League of Cities discussed “How Can We Be Heard?” The young people then brainstormed ideas about obstacles they face being heard about public issues. They also learned how to run an Open Space Meeting and presenting topics of particular concern to youth.
“I learned about the inner workings of municipal government, and how the youth can speak out to make an impact on our community,” Clermont Youth Council member Camille Eldredge says.
The experience concluded with a time to share with peers what they had accomplished together, incuding major topics like affordable housing, social media and self-image, gun control, recycling, and construction.
“It was a great way to gain different perspectives on the pressing issues our communities face and ways we could find solutions to those problems,” Camille added.
The next day, the Florida League of Cities took the youth to tour Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and participate in a workshop on choosing a major at Florida State University’s Career Center.
“I learned that we don’t have to limit our impact to Clermont,” Clermont Youth Council member Luis Mustafa says. “If many of us youth councils could ban together to try to make the same change in our cities, we could potentially cause a change statewide.”