Community leaders join together to form youth committee

A Trafalgar Town Council member noticed there weren’t many young people attending government meetings, inspiring her to get teenagers involved in the goings-on of the town.

Jessica Jones, elected to the town council last November, is behind an effort to form the Trafalgar Youth Committee, made of students from Indian Creek High School, which will be involved in local politics and community service projects, Jones said.

“The gist of it is, I wanted to provide an environment where youth could have a voice in local politics and local community projects and in established non-profits that need volunteers,” Jones said. “My hope is they’ll attend a Trafalgar town meeting because we are leaving the youth committee open to all Indian Creek (High School) students who would like to be involved in their own local politics.”

In addition to attending meetings, students can identify the changes they would like to see at the local level and bring it to the council’s attention, she said.

Students can use the Trafalgar branch of the Johnson County Public Library as a meeting space, said Annemarie Wallace, the branch’s teen services librarian.

“I’m really excited about it,” Wallace said. “It gives teens a great opportunity to make the community impact they hadn’t had before. I want to facilitate them and help them in any way we can. I’ve been working with teens for a long time and I’ve got lots of ideas for ways they can get together, have fun, break the ice and decide what they want to do.”

Though formation of the committee is still in the planning phase, Indian Creek schools is accepting applications for students on its website. Students who participate will earn community service hours, which they can add to their resumes, said Luke Skobel, principal at Indian Creek High School.

“I think it’s going to be great for students to be plugged into the local government and connect to the community,” Skobel said. “It’s more than reading about it in a textbook or in the classroom; it’s a chance to positively affect the community.”

Students who are part of the coalition can help by volunteering for fundraiser events, such as the Monsters at the Creek Fun Run and Music at the Creek, two events that won’t have volunteers this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but may in future years. Both events help raise money for the NHJ Foundation, which represents Indian Creek schools and provides money for teachers through education grants, said Elisa Rogowski, the foundation’s president.

“I think it’s an easy way to connect with the community,” Rogowski said of the youth committee. “A lot of young people want to volunteer and be involved but there’s not always a clear and easy path to that.”

The committee will hopefully have is first meeting in January, Jones said.