Draper Mayor’s Youth Council is 65 dynamic members strong
Dec 04, 2019 09:03AM
● By Mimi Darley Dutton
Youth council members, including Natalie Hunt and Makayla Larkins, recently helped to beautify the Draper Cemetery. (Photo courtesy Caroline Sagae)
By Mimi Darley Dutton | [email protected]
What began as a group of 15–20 youth has now grown to a Draper City Mayor’s Youth Council (DCMYC), whose membership is capped at 65 but whose enthusiasm for helping in the community is boundless.
The group is comprised of high school students who are Draper residents. They are charged with running four major events each year, including Haunted Hollow, the Draper tree lighting, the Easter egg hunt and the Draper Days children’s parade.
Caroline Sagae serves as the main adult advisor to the DCMYC. She’s been with the organization for seven years, first as an adult volunteer, and now as a part-time employee of the city whose job is to be the liaison between the youth council, their volunteer adult advisors and the city. Joaquim Sagae (Caroline’s husband), Mindy Van De Graaff and Hubert Huh serve as the volunteer adult advisors.
“We’re well organized now, well oiled. We just get better,” Caroline said. “I like to see the youth and their personalities and how they react with each other, how they change through leadership. I like to see their enthusiasm as they are serving in the community and seeing them learn new things about the city and leadership where they wouldn’t normally experience. I feel privileged to be part of this group. They are excited, work hard, are kind, passionate and enthusiastic, selfless, and are willing to put themselves out there.”
The DCMYC is more than just volunteering for city service projects four times per year. The youth are led by seven youth “executives” who organize the group into three committees: service, leadership and activities. The entire group meets twice monthly to explore various aspects of what makes a city run such as visiting and learning about Draper City’s Fire Department. In addition to that, they have projects. Recently they volunteered to clean up the Jordan River Parkway Trail, including working there to remove an invasive weed, and also cleaning up the Draper Cemetery by clearing grass from around gravestones.
They also break into smaller groups and are asked to pick a service project, devote at least two hours to that project, and then present their projects to the rest of the council. “It is awesome to see some of the fun ideas that they come up with to help the community,” Caroline said. If the youth log enough volunteer hours, they’re eligible to attend a Legislative Day at the capitol and/or a leadership conference at Utah State.
“They are learning how our government works, how budgets are spent and learning about each facet of politics. Hopefully each one can apply what they learn today and later in life become more involved in government leadership to improve people’s lives. It is a prestigious position to be part of the Draper City Youth Council,” Caroline said.
Elle Stoker is a senior at Corner Canyon and the current youth mayor of the council. This is her third year with the group. What keeps her coming back is the people. “My favorite thing ever it so see and meet all the people of Draper and feel like I’m helping the community in some way. I feel that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t feel as fulfilled. Our community is amazing and I want to contribute in any way I can,” Stoker said.
Her favorite activity of the year is when the youth council takes their oath of office in front of the city council and their parents, promising to defend the constitution and valuing the opportunity to help their community. “It really gives you a sense of confidence and purpose which I love,” she said.
She’s headed to college next year and she’s thinking about becoming an attorney. “I’m kind of on the fence about it. I don’t like confrontation, but I want to make society better and leave some legacy that improves the quality of life for people around me,” she said.
Stoker explained that you must first complete a year on the youth council before you can apply to be one of the executives, or youth leaders, in the second year. After completing a year on the executive board, those interested in being mayor must turn in a resume and portfolio of things they’ve done outside the youth council and then go through an interview with the adult leaders who ultimately choose the mayor.
Stoker commended the members of this year’s youth council. “I’ve gotten to meet so many new people. They’re all goal oriented and they want to get into good colleges, they have good grades. It shows what hard workers they are and how they value their community and other people, which I think is pretty special.”
She also very grateful to the Sagaes. “They’ve helped me with college applications and scholarships. They’re not just there for the council, they help the individuals. You don’t find people like that very often. They just really care,” Stoker said.
The youth council assisted the City Journals in hosting a debate for the city council candidates in October at City Hall. DCMYC members helped gather and formulate questions for the candidates as well as time their responses in an effort to give equal speaking time to each candidate.
Applications for next year’s DCMYC will be accepted online in March and April of 2020 with interviews for membership to follow. The adult advisors who conduct the interviews want to be sure the youth demonstrate a readiness and willingness to lead, but also that they’re not too busy to fulfill the commitment of being part of the DCMYC. Watch for advertising about the DCMYC at local schools or check the city’s website for more information. They’re also looking for more adult volunteer advisors. Information on that can be found on the city’s website as well.