Mayor’s Youth Council to return

Published 11:59 pm Monday, September 11, 2017

 

NATCHEZ — After a hiatus, the Mayor’s Youth Council is returning and aims to give local students a chance to mold the future of their city.

The council is meant to bring together students from Natchez High, Trinity Episcopal, Cathedral and Adams County Christian School and have them represent the pulse of youth in the community.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis said she took the initiative to bring the Mayor’s Youth Council back to Natchez after seeing it “go by the wayside” in the late 2000s.

“What we’re going to attempt to do is try to make sure everybody has a chance to get involved,” Arceneaux-Mathis said.

The city recently distributed letters to each of the four schools, asking them to gather interested students and eventually designate members of the youth council. Each school is asked to send four students to be part of the council.

Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell said the council provides an opportunity to prove just how important the perspective of young people is to the city.

“A lot of people, especially adults, think that young people don’t have good ideas,” Grennell said. “Well, a lot of great ideas come from young people.”

Grennell recalled joining Mississippi Youth Government Association as a young student, inspiring him to one day enter city government. One specific instance Grennell remembers, is when MYGA members proposed picture ID be added to Mississippi driver’s licenses — something taken for granted now, but was not always the case (New York became the last to require photos on driver’s licenses in 1984).

That instance, Grennell said, goes to show how young people are capable of innovation and creativity.

Because of those exact traits, Grennell believes the Mayor’s Youth Council can help Natchez find its leaders of tomorrow.

“(City leaders) have got to be replaced one day,” Grennell said. “Why not train our young people to become our leaders of the future?”

In spring, members of the youth council will take part in a citywide “Mayor’s Youth Council Day,” when the students will shadow city officials and even potentially run a city council meeting, Arceneaux-Mathis said.

For now, however, Arceneaux-Mathis said many aspects of the program still must be worked out, considering it has not operated for almost a decade.

“I’m still trying to get myself organized with exactly what we can do,” she said.

Arceneaux-Mathis said she plans to end registration for the youth council by Sept. 22, and she hopes to bring in the students of the youth council to the board of aldermen’s meeting the evening of Sept. 26.

Grennell said the youth council should become active in October.