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The City Journals

Opening Doors for Youth, YCC Receives Keys to the City

Aug 30, 2016 03:20PM ● By Travis Barton

The West Valley City Council and the Youth City Council take a photo together after the Youth City Council members were awarded keys to the city during a study meeting this summer. –Kevin Conde

Teen members of the West Valley Youth City Council (YCC) were recently honored with something special —the keys to the city.
Members of the youth council received the keys during a West Valley City Council study meeting this summer in recognition of their efforts over the previous year.
“It shows that the city council is supportive of us and that hopefully we can do more,” Nelson Lotz, last year’s YCC deputy mayor, said.
Leslie Hudson, YCC Advisor, said she was ecstatic to see the kids receiving their keys to the city.
“These kids are great and they deserve something really good, and they finally got it,” Hudson said.
During the study meeting, each member of the YCC was called up to receive their key before taking a group photograph with the West Valley City Council.
“They’ve been fairly outstanding in our minds as far as their work on e-cigarettes and being very proactive in the community,” Mayor Ron Bigelow said during the study meeting. “We congratulate you on a job well done.”
Lotz said it was cool to receive the same honor in West Valley City that has been bestowed on famous individuals such as Hillary Clinton, Axl Rose and Her Majesty Queen Halaevalu Mata’aho, the queen of Tonga.
But it’s the city council’s symbolic support through the keys that makes the difference to Lotz.
“Not only is it a great personal honor for each one of us but it shows that the city council is ready to back up the youth city council,” Lotz said.
This plays a role, Lotz said, when they find problems and solutions among the youth in the city.
“We’ll actually be able to do something about it because the city council is there to back us up,” Lotz said.
While the benefits will be felt in the years to come, the keys marked a culmination of a busy year for the YCC, which included passing a resolution with the West Valley City Council supporting youth education of e-cigarettes.
“Which we hope to carry over into this year while continuing to do service projects,” Lotz said.
Hudson said the service projects done by YCC are city oriented—Westfest, National Night Out, the Clean and Beautiful project—so it puts a spotlight on the teenagers.
“It put the high school kids of West Valley in a super positive light,” Hudson said.
Hudson, a former schoolteacher, said it’s been interesting seeing teenagers from different backgrounds—both culturally and ethnically—work towards a common goal.
“It’s been neat to watch them develop methods of working together,” Hudson said.
“[It’s been fun] learning how to work with people you share the same goal with but you have different ways of reaching that goal,” Lotz said. “Eventually you find that one way that wasn’t anyone’s original way but ends up achieving that goal.”
The YCC started two years ago and Hudson said she’s been very impressed with the high quality each of the members exude.
“There isn’t one of them I wouldn’t be totally thrilled to have as my own my kid and not one that I wouldn’t trust with a high-level of responsibility,” Hudson said.
With 14 members on the YCC this previous year, and most of them from Granger and Hunter High Schools, Hudson said there is no cap on the amount of members they can have and she would like to see kids from other similar-aged schools around the city.
“We’d love more youth to join the youth city council,” said Lotz, who will be a senior at Granger High this fall.
Generally, teenagers who join youth city councils are students more known for their academic dedication and achievement rather than those who are good students, but maybe don’t feel the urge to join something like the youth city council.
“You don’t have to be the best at what you do to be on the council, you just have to care about something,” Lotz said.
After receiving a key to the city and being involved in so many projects, Lotz—who’s also on the Salt Lake County Youth City Council as a West Valley representative—said he’s looking forward to the new year and continuing to improve the image of education in West Valley.
“West Valley City, no matter what other people may say about it, has some of the best teachers and schools in the state,” Lotz said.