SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) –From student council to sports, Sioux Falls Christian junior Lavin Maddox fills her time with lots of activities.
This school year, the 17-year-old added Mayor’s Youth Council to the list.
“I was excited for the opportunity just to be a part of something bigger than myself,” 17-year-old Lavin Maddox said.
12 teenagers from schools across the city make up the council, which meets once a month.
“It was really to bring local youth in Sioux Falls together, not only to learn more about local government, but also connect the youth from different schools that are maybe used to just being in their own student council to work together and show the youth throughout the Sioux Falls Community,” Chad Quissell with Sioux Falls Parks and Rec said.
Each meeting looks different.
The youth council is led by a team of local leaders.
“It varies from a tour of a Sioux Falls facility, learning more about the government, meeting with Mayor TenHaken or some of the city employees, or it could be getting out into the community,” Quissell said.
Here, Maddows and the group are at the Furniture Mission, a non-profit that provides furniture and household items to people in need.
The group is not only learning about the organization, but also volunteering.
From lending a hand in the community, to learning about city government, the council is opening up teens to new things.
“I think one of my favorite things we’ve done so far has been going to the water treatment plant, was really exciting to see just what that looks like in Sioux Falls. I know we’re known for having good water, but just to see how our water is purified, to see how that process takes place is pretty cool,” Maddox said.
“I definitely didn’t realize the intricacies into a growing population. Obviously, I knew some things were needed like food, shelter, water, but even the highway system or parks and rec those totally went over my head, and I definitely enjoy those facets of Sioux Falls,” 17-year-old Aryan Patel said.
The new experiences these teens are getting today, could help them become tomorrow’s leaders.
“I guess in the future, the teenagers now are going to be the future residents and in order to build a good, stable foundation for the future the teenagers should know what gets put into the city so in the future when they have the opportunity to have their role and playing a part in any department they can put the attributes to the test,” Patel said.
The 2022-23 mayor’s youth council will wrap up this spring, which means Maddox and the rest of the members have more time to connect with the community.
“I think so many teenagers, especially this day and age, are very self-centered. It’s hard to be able to get outside of your bubble and think of what’s beyond what you know, so being able to experience more than just my area of life has been really exciting,” Maddox said.