With a name like Great Lakes Center for Youth Development, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that our organization has young people on its board of directors. However, you might be surprised to know just how much our youth board members contribute.
Out of 15 board members, currently three are under age 18. The youth work under the same set of expectations as the adults. They have the same voting rights and responsibilities. They participate on committees, act as ambassadors, volunteer at events and donate financially to the organization at a level that is comfortable for them.
In short, they do it all. And they shine!
This is especially evident when we hold events involving other youth. For example, GLCYD hosts youth summits in which students from multiple schools gather to learn about positive youth development and to plan initiatives to build youth assets back in their schools and communities. Our youth board members are instrumental in the events from start to finish. They help plan, set up, facilitate and emcee the event. Afterwards, they debrief and provide input on how to improve next time.
It’s great to see how positively the youth summit attendees respond to the youth board members. Our youth leaders inspire and elevate the level at which the whole group functions.
Our youth board members have also have made presentations and facilitated activities with groups of all ages. It’s amazing how much more of an impact hearing about youth issues has when it’s coming from youth themselves.
The youth bring energy and a new perspective to the organization.
Even in the more mundane tasks of our board, youth participate fully. Board Secretary Maddie Touchinski of Marquette joined the board at 16 and moved into the officer position while just 18. Maddie has been a wonderful role model and mentor to our newer youth board members.
Speaking of which, we are happy to welcome three brand-spanking new board members who are still in their teens.
Vica Brickey, 17, of Marquette enjoys being a team player. She is on the Marquette rowing team and enjoys activities with the junior class at Marquette Senior High School such as float building for homecoming. She says she strives to listen closely to others but is not afraid to share her opinion. She tries to remain respectful but is assertive when needed.
Taletha Witty, 16, is a junior at Munising High School. She enjoys volunteering in her community. She is a mentor in the Peer-to-Peer program at school and is president of her tribal youth council. She is committed to making sure that youth have a say in the community.
Mercedes Tyner, 16, is also a junior at Munising High School. She plays softball, is active in robotics and enjoys tutoring other students. She says she’s good at coming up with ideas, enjoys meeting new challenges and loves helping others every chance she gets.
With GLCYD’s focus on youth development, it not only makes sense to include youth in our decision making, it is essential. We are fortunate to have these awesome young decision-makers come aboard!