What Will the Kids Ask?

Through my activities as Mayor, I have had the opportunity to connect with several different audiences about a variety of topics. I listen to resident ideas and concerns and help make decisions that encourage our community’s success. While much of my work as Mayor is focused on what looks like traditional government tasks, one type of activity has become a favorite—engaging our youth.

Now I must say, presenting to grade school kids in Happy Valley was a bit intimidating at first. What should I say? How will I be received? What will the kids ask? These were questions that frequently crossed my mind before taking the stage. I suppose I have gotten used to City Council meetings and other administrative gatherings, so the idea of interacting with the city’s youth stretched my comfort zone.  But here’s the thing about our community’s youth – they are innovative, respectful, and deeply interested in making this world a better place. They simply want to share their ideas, too.

Recently, I visited Spring Mountain Elementary and Scouters Mountain Elementary to talk to fourth and fifth graders about the “If I were Mayor” contest.  This is a statewide program promoted by the Oregon Mayors Association. Depending on grade level, students create posters, write essays, or submit multimedia projects detailing what they would do if they were mayor. Not only is this an opportunity to help educate our youth in local government and the responsibilities of the mayor, but it provides an avenue for the City Council to learn more about what our youth deem important. I was blown away by the ideas from these kids.

After visiting the schools and talking to students, I found a little more pep in my step and a renewed sense of pride for our community. Our youth are filled with hope and positive energy, and their desire to help others is a good reminder to myself to stay focused on days when there is conflict or frustration. I am excited to see what paths these students take as they continue to learn and grow. I know they will be doing some great things.