We’re always looking for ways to engage people of all ages in public policy and the democratic process in their community, state and even nationally. This past year, we had the opportunity to lead the management and facilitation of the Colorado Youth Advisory Council (COYAC); a group of 40 young people from across Colorado wanting to make a difference for their peers and the future of the state.
Since the 2008 legislation that launched COYAC, (Youth Advisory Act in House Bill 08-1157) the goal of this council has been to examine, evaluate and discuss the issues, interests and needs affecting Colorado youth now and in the future and to formally advise and make recommendations to elected officials regarding those issues. As our first year facilitating the council, we designed it as a younger sibling to our Bighorn Leadership Program, which has delivered nonpartisan public policy training since 2001 and has almost 400 alumni from around the state. During the council year, youth council members met with their state senator or representative, spoke to policy and subject matter experts, explored topics like ethics, negotiation, policy analysis, public speaking and learned about the Colorado state budget using our Backseat Budgeter tool. The council year concluded with a meeting at the State Capitol where youth members present their policy recommendations to legislators. The recommendations focused on four specific areas: the achievement gap, higher education and job opportunities, energy development and the environment, and access to behavioral health care.
Colorado State of Mind journalist Cynthia Hessin wanted to learn more about the council and invited us to come on her show. Engaged Public’s senior project specialist Kristen Petty was joined by current COYAC members Raymond Pryor from Denver and Chris Zheng from Aurora along with the champion of the council, Colorado State Senator Ellen Roberts from Durango.
The Engaged Public team had a terrific time working with this dedicated and inspiring group of young leaders. The council truly proves the importance of a youth voice in the policy making process. We are excited to continue our work with COYAC and are currently looking for new members to serve in the 2014-2015 council. There are 19 open positions from Greeley, to Pueblo, to Moffat and everywhere in between. Go to our website www.COYAC.org to learn more and apply today!
19 May 2014