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Giving youth a voice

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By The Staff

Annie Chroninger, Josh Dolin, and Emi Weeks are three high school students working as part of a new program called “Youth Mobilizers.”

The YMCA employs the Youth Mobilizers four afternoons a week to research issues affecting local youth.

The Family YMCA, in partnership with the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, started the Youth Mobilizer program last school year.  

The Youth Mobilizers identify the issues they feel are important to investigate – such as learning more about why students are dropping out of our high school, or how and where teens from Los Alamos spend their money.  

The Youth Mobilizer program is modeled after similar programs in other states.  Annie, a senior at Los Alamos High School, began working for the YMCA as a Youth Mobilizer last school year.  

She says that last year the Mobilizers began to gather data about the issue of school drop-outs, and this year’s Mobilizers hope to get more solid information and make a presentation to the School Board.

The Mobilizers are also collecting information from middle and high school students about teen spending power.  

They have developed a survey that is being distributed at the schools, and they hope to present results at a Chamber of Commerce meeting before the end of the year.  

Age, grade, and gender are being collected, but the surveys are anonymous.  

“We hope to provide information to the Chamber about how much money teens in Los Alamos spend, and to help influence what goes into the Trinity Site shopping center,” said Emi, a junior at LAHS.  “We think people underestimate the buying power of teens,” added Josh, who is also a junior at the high school.  

Working with an adult coordinator, the Mobilizers’ job is to plan and conduct research, compile the results, and report to groups within the community.  

The goal of the program is to bring a youth perspective into decisions being made by adults such as business owners, county government, and school administrators.  And the Youth Mobilizers themselves are building their skills as decision makers, problem solvers, advocates and leaders.

Dr. Joanna Davis, the Youth Mobilizers Coordinator for the YMCA, explains that because the Youth Mobilizers are more connected to their peers, they are able to gain more insight into teen issues than adults could.  

“This program provides a great opportunity to combine the youth voice with actual data, and I think decision makers in the business community and other local organizations will be very interested in the information.”

The Mobilizers welcome any ideas for future projects, and also encourage any youth in the community that would like to provide input on the drop-out issue or that have not completed a spending survey to contact them at youth.mobilizers.la@gmail.com.