Skip to main content

Draper Journal

Tomorrow’s leaders pitch in to help the city today

Oct 01, 2022 06:31PM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton

By Mimi Darley Dutton | [email protected]

“High caliber” and “cream of the crop” are words used to describe the Draper City Mayor’s Youth Council (DCMYC). The youth took their oath of office at the Aug. 16 City Council meeting, but returning members volunteered for the city throughout the summer, including during Draper Days events.

With 41 new members, the DCMYC has 87 members total, the largest for a youth council in the state. They’re helped by five adult advisors.

Arie Van De Graaff is the newest adult advisor. His wife Mindy volunteered in that capacity for several years. “This was the year I finally had the time and they had the need. Our third child is in the council now and it’s a great organization. It’s fun to interact with teenagers regardless, but especially these teenagers. They’re cream of the crop. They’re interested in the community and in service. They’re full of great ideas. A lot of this is youth-driven and youth-led,” he said.

The process for joining DCMYC happens in March and April. Potential new members must fill out an application, write an essay, and get two letters of recommendation followed by an interview with Mayor Troy Walker. Returning members are asked to write several paragraphs on what they liked about the previous year and their ideas for improvements. Returning members can also apply to be part of the executive board which requires creating a resume and writing a short essay. The adult advisors choose an executive board, the youth mayor and mayor pro tem from among those applicants.

All members must commit to a minimum number of service hours doing youth council activities and complete a service project as a small group of two to five people.

This year’s Youth Mayor is Shaelyn Preede, a senior at Corner Canyon who’s also First Attendant in the Miss Draper scholarship program. This is her third year on the council. “Service is very important, and I believe that everybody should make it an integral part of their life. The youth council is a fantastic way for high school students to be involved in their community through leadership, service and activities,” she said.

Preede has volunteered as a photographer for events such as the Easter Egg Hunt and the Tree Lighting Ceremony. Her favorite youth council activity was last year’s Amazing Race. “I love event planning and management, and since I organized the activity, I enjoyed watching the fierce competition,” she said.

Saskia Willey, a junior at Corner Canyon, serves as Mayor Pro Tem and is also in her third year with DCMYC. Her involvement has helped her gain an appreciation for the city, its leadership and volunteers. “I think everyone in the council loves serving the community. It’s fun to be able to do a variety of things like helping with assisted living centers…and meeting a variety of people. It gives you leadership experience and helps you get out in the community. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is considering joining,” Willey said.

It's likely that these youth have learned life lessons in volunteerism that will propel them to serve in their communities in the future.

“Wherever I might be (as an adult), it would be really cool to be involved in the community to make a change. Even if I don’t have a job with a city, I think volunteering when I’m older is something I would definitely consider,” Willey said.

New member Christian Scheidecker is excited about the camaraderie that comes from being on the council. A freshman at American Preparatory Academy, his family moved to Draper from Park City two years ago. The council has been a great way for him to make new friends, volunteer and build his resume for college where he plans to study engineering. “We help the city, get to know each other, and I learn about college opportunities and useful things for life during these activities. It’s a really positive environment,” he said.

Scheidecker already planned and achieved his small-group volunteer activity for the year by helping an elderly neighbor with her large ranch property. “I figured if she needs help, I can get myself and these guys to help her,” he said.

Melarie Wheat, a volunteer on the city’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, stopped by the Youth Council’s booth at the recent International Arts & Crafts Festival where the youth were helping children create crafts representative of different cultures.

“They are so great to have here. We bring them the crafts and they run the show,” Wheat said.  “It’s great to have so many high-caliber youth in our community to help with our event.”