MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE — Indy Commons hosted an informational meeting on Thursday for the newly formed Youth MIC.
The MIC stands for Monmouth Independence Council.
“It’s an opportunity to connect with people you need to be connected with to be heard,” said Morea Lloyd to the young people in the room.
Lloyd is the senior youth advisor for Community Services Consortium. She and Ramon Martinez, community engagement manager for Independence, guided the discussions.
Youth MIC is open to youth ages 16 through 24.
The mayors of Monmouth and Independence, Cec Koontz and John McArdle, respectively, were on hand to lend support for the project, but Lloyd said the youth council’s reach did not need to be limited to city government.
“We want to form this group and you guys can develop it in to whatever you want it to be,” she said. “We’ll be there to help you build partnerships.”
Martinez echoed her sentiment, saying Youth MIC will be driven by youth.
“We’ll be in that cheerleader role,” he said. They just want to provide the platform.
Members of the Multnomah Youth Commission drove down to Independence to lend support and share their experiences with their peers in Monmouth and Independence.
Jordan McElroy said MYC is a unique model.
“We choose what we want to work on,” she said.
Adults may suggest certain issues for them to address, but the youth council decides if they want to take it on.
“Youth and adults are on equal terms,” McElroy said. “Adults play a more supportive role. We make all the final decisions.”
McElroy said she joined her MYC because she was looking for friends.
She made what she considers life-long friendships.
“The passion for the work came later,” she said.
Antonia McSwain said she was interested in the work already, and joining MYC gave her the opportunity to be surrounded by like-minded people.
Among the accomplishments she’s proud of is a “know your rights” event that was aimed at educating immigrants and refugees about their rights and current laws.
Chronic absenteeism is an issue David Hoang said they worked on by advocating for later school start times.
MYC members did some brainstorming with the youth from Monmouth and Independence who were at the information session.
Issues that came up were support services for teen parents, more partnerships between teens and Western Oregon University students, and having more local places for youth to hang out.
Daniel Torres learned about the event from Independence City Councilor Kathy Martin-Willis. He volunteered with her at the YMCA.
Torres is a GED graduate and brought some friends with him to the event, including WOU student Mariah Perryman, who won a scholarship to the Youth Voices in Action Conference in Salem.
Martin-Willis said the Independence council makes a conscious effort toward diversity and hopes Youth MIC will add diversity of age groups and life experience.
“I hope this is a great start,” she said.