Indianola Youth Expand Their Civics Lessons
Brayden Bailey enjoys building “stuff.” He’s good at math and he wants to be a mechanical engineer. Right now, he’s in eighth grade and he’s already president.
“I really enjoy this,” said Brayden of his top leadership position on the newly created Indianola Junior Youth Council, an offshoot of the highly successful Senior Youth Council, a five-year-old program for high school students. “I want to make Indianola a better place by helping young people in our community.”
Like the Senior Youth Council, the Junior version provides an important voice for the discussion of issues that affect young people, exposing them to the nature and scope of city government, learning leadership skills, and requiring a pledge to give the greatest possible service to the community. The inaugural class is comprised of six members in 7th and 8th grades. Next year, the class is expected to double in size, said Anthony Powell, who oversees both councils for the Indianola Promise Community, which developed and supports the programs.
“In the years since we began the Senior Youth Council, we found that we needed to start these kids at an earlier age to focus not only on building leadership skills and engaging in community service, but on college and helping with preparation for the ACT,” said Powell. “It’s a matter of building their resumes now, while they’re in middle school, instead of waiting until it’s harder to help mold them into successful adults.”
To join either council, prospective members must go through an application process during the summer that includes interviews and writing essays about themselves. The Junior Youth Council, which began at the end of August, elected Brayden its first president and began working on community service projects.
“We’ve helped with food drives and looked at problems in the community that we can work to help solve,” said Brayden. “As an adult, you might not connect with a young person as well as another young person can. That’s what we want to do.”
The Merritt Middle School student will transition to the Senior Youth Council when he enters high school. Several Senior Youth Council members have spent more than one year in the program and most have gone on to college after graduation.
Since it began, the senior council has been engaged in scores of service projects, totaling more than 1,200 service hours. The current class recently participated in a Halloween festival at Indianola’s community garden and spoke to younger students about the negative impacts of bullying at another event at First Baptist Church.
Powell said another reason that the junior council was created was to offer a leadership bridge to high school. “It’s important to have a continuing stream of leaders moving through middle and high school into college and beyond,” he said.
The members of the 2016-17 Junior Youth Council are:
Jameshia Attaway (7th)
Brayden Bailey (8th)
Erianna Curtis (7th)
Alyssa Jones (8th)
Johnny Jones (7th)
Amyrical Turner (7th)
“The Junior Youth Council is teaching me leadership skills and working with others and how to be more confident,” said Brayden. We have to learn how to problem solve and that will help me in college when I’m studying to be a mechanical engineer.