City Council member Kevin Roden hopes to tap into the minds of young residents for ideas to help make Denton a better place.
To that end, Roden put out a call for young people to join his new Youth Advisory Council. On Tuesday night, they came together in the council chambers for the first time to discuss the purpose and scope of the youth council.
"I really enjoy their energy, enthusiasm and ideas," Roden said. "[I'm] looking forward to capturing that enthusiasm and seeing how we can work together to make Denton a better place."
So far, 19 students in grades five through 12 have signed up to participate. They range in age from 11 to 18 and attend Denton and Ryan high schools; McMath, Strickland, Harpool and Calhoun middle schools; McNair Elementary School; Selwyn College Preparatory School; and Lakeland Christian Academy.
During the meeting, the youth council members were able get to know each other through a series of activities as well as dive into some of the students' concerns.
The students wrote these issues down on paper and taped them to a wall. Those issues included better food in schools, more sidewalks and more indoor athletic facilities for young people.
Denton High student Jessica Wilke said she feels people underestimate youths and what they can do.
"A lot of things children want to tell adults, but feel adults might think it is silly," she said.
The council, she said, allows young people to communicate those ideas and give their perspectives and know the ideas will be heard.
Denton High student Hanna Hansen said she feels "the youth may not have the most mature perspective, [but] it's still a great amount of ideas and a new perspective. Adults can take the ideas and develop them into something that may actually happen."
The council will serve as a learning tool for some members, including Ryan High's Jackson Currin, who wants to learn more about the city he lives in.
"And I see a few things I could throw in here to help the city out," he said.
When asked for an example, Jackson mentioned water conservation, noting all the sprinklers and running water he sees around town.
Roden, who ran for City Council on a platform that included getting youths more involved in decisions of the city government, thought the meeting went well and is excited about the future of the youth council.
Roden said he received an e-mail from a student who wanted to share volunteer opportunities with the group.
Roden wants to take the group on buses and the A-train to give them an opportunity to see how mass transit works, and also mentioned themed bike rides and trips to the parks and museums. But he said he wants to hear more from the council members about what they want to do and see.
"To me, there are endless opportunities along those lines to expose them to new things," he said.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .