The City of Naples Youth Council is an advisory board for Naples City Council. The members of the board are allowed to voice their opinions on certain topics surrounding the community. In each meeting, issues about the community are spoken along with updates on current or upcoming projects.
“We do projects such as Christmas gift giving and being in charge of the pier survey in which more than 11,000 people responded to the survey,” City of Naples Youth Council Advisor Kathy Swingley said. “We have commissioned a painting that’s almost done. It’s a painting of the pier before Hurricane Ian. We’re going to be giving that to the hospital, and it will be a traveling mural there. At the end of 2023, we’re going to be giving it to the city for the centennial. We also have a storyboard that we have written about tortoises. It’s on educating people about tortoises and turtles that we’re hoping to have to go in one of our local parks. Then, we have more upcoming projects for next year.”
Naples is comprised of many communities that make it unique. There are many topics concerning the community that require attention from another perspective. The City of Naples Youth Council meetings are being utilized to talk about the different plans for the board.
“Through our monthly tours, we are able to learn about what makes Naples itself,” former Vice Chair Tamara Sanchez said. “We learn about the different businesses and workplaces that work together as a whole to make our city function. At our meetings, we discuss our ideas and work on projects that we have created on our own.”
The City of Naples Youth Council is not a club that anyone can join, but there is a lengthy application process where there are many steps involved instead
“There is an application with a name and their information. Then, they have to have two teacher recommendations where the teacher writes a recommendation about the candidate,” Swingley said. “There are six questions that they have to answer within the application that must be typewritten and attached to the application. We score that on a rubric. Each executive board member takes a question and then they score that question according to the rubric. After that part, we have face-to-face interviews. During the interviews, they are asked six different questions and not your stereotypical questions, but more out of the box or lateral thinking to see how quick on the feet they are.”
A few members of the youth council can run to have a role on the executive board, which means they will have more responsibilities within the advisory board. There are five different roles that make up the executive board. Depending on what the project is, there may be a lead person.
“I wanted to join the youth council because I wanted to have my opinion voiced in local politics,” Manager Cole Perkins said. “I am the manager of the City of Naples Youth Council. I write all the agendas and make sure to work with the Chair to plan meetings and make sure they run smoothly. I also work with our advisor, Mrs. Swingley, when communicating with the board.”
The youth council has connections to the City of Naples council board which allows for more opportunities and possibilities for young voices to be heard on certain issues. Youth perspective on specific topics is becoming more important every day because newer, younger generations are expanding.
“Students should join the youth council if they are interested in having an influence on public policy in our area,” former Chair Tanner Coleman said. “The youth council has real connections and when you serve on the board your voice is heard.”