DOVER — Councilman David Anderson hopes to not only develop the next generation of leaders, but to give youths a voice in the community through Dover’s revitalized Youth Advisory Committee.
The committee will allow youths ages 14 to 18 a chance to speak on issues that affect them and develop leadership skills for the future, said Mr. Anderson.
Deadline for applications is today.
Mr. Anderson said he has about seven applications and expects that number to increase.
“I’m really excited about it and I know more are coming and I know a lot of people said they were willing to help and volunteer,” Mr. Anderson said. “There isn’t an age criteria to volunteer, so there’s been a large amount of people that have reached out.”
Final membership in the nine-person committee will be decided by members of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Enhancement Committee during its Monday meeting, of which Mr. Anderson is a member.
The youth committee will make regular reports to city council on its efforts.
“There are a lot of great things happening in the community, but if we never hear from the public we may never know what problems may exist,” Mr. Anderson said. “It gives them a chance to spark new ideas and broaden the conversation as to what’s going on in these communities.”
Councilman Wallace Dixon, a member of the committee, said it’s important to give the youths a voice in the city.
“You want to know where they stand,” Mr. Dixon said. “It gives us a chance to get to know them. It gives them a chance to know that they have the right to do something in the in city and their voice matters. They will help bring action to the city government, which will help us be better moving forward.”
The late Councilwoman Sophia Russell formed the committee in 2010. It never officially was disbanded, but it eventually halted operation because of lack of participation.
Before she died in 2012, Ms. Russell asked Mr. Anderson to continue with the committee.
“I promised her to keep it going,” Mr. Anderson said. “I had a tough time with it because of my yearlong military deployment to Afghanistan, but I was able to finally get it done.”
Mr. Dixon shared the same sentiment.
“That was her big thing before she passed away,” Mr. Dixon said. “We wanted to revive it and bring it back. It’s positive for the city.”
Mr. Anderson held an information and question-and-answer session at City Hall March 30 and was excited about some of the ideas presented during the meeting.
“It went well,” Mr. Anderson said. “I think it was very positive, as about 20 people showed up. It felt pretty good.”
Mr. Anderson said during the sessions participants discussed activities the committee could sponsor or take part in.
“One of the events we’re looking forward to is Dover Days,” Mr. Anderson said. “If we are able to be a part of that event it will give them a different perspective on it, as they will be behind the planning process, which is different from actually watching the event.
“I feel as though those lessons will be valuable for those individuals moving forward.”
Through the committee Mr. Anderson hopes to revive Dover’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration, in which they could gather support to raise the remaining $3,000 of the $10,000 needed to put on the traditional fireworks display.
“That’s what I really hope to do,” Mr. Anderson said.
Once the committee members are selected, it will begin its regular sessions in May.
The time and place of the meetings will be announced, but Mr. Anderson said he only will be a facilitator.
“The kids are the lead on this,” Mr. Anderson said. “They will be running this. It will help them build leadership and make connections. This is what the community needs.”
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