It’s the behavior you’d expect from teenagers, which is acceptable since this is a meeting of the Brentwood Youth Commission, an advisory body to the City Council to keep city government up to date with what is on the minds of Brentwood youth.
The commission, comprised of Brentwood residents ages 11 to 20, has been a part of the city since 1999. The group consists of 10 youth, three adult advisors and one staff liaison, Recreation Supervisor Barbie Gary.
“The Youth Commission is a group of energetic and ambitious people who want to improve the city they live in,” Gary said. “They represent and give a voice to the youth of Brentwood.”
Meetings are run with the formality of a city council meeting. An agenda must be posted at least 72 hours in advance, which includes a consent calendar and items up for discussion. All items must be approved with a motion, a second, and a commission vote.
Chairman Matthew Strauss is serving his second term on the commission. The Heritage High School sophomore said the commission plays a key role in representing Brentwood’s younger residents.
“It is so important in this age of politics and government that the voice of the youth is heard in our city and our world,” Strauss said. “I believe our commission does a great job in promoting this youth voice in city government and a great job with the youth-oriented events the commission plans and organizes.”
Elysia Cook, commission treasurer and a junior at Heritage High School, said the commission is a unique component of city government. “As commissioners, we offer a perspective that no adult on the City Council has. We’re kids, so we know what kids around Brentwood want and need. Our job is to come up with ideas and events that best represent what kids around here would be interested in.”
To help the City Council know what’s on the minds of Brentwood’s youth, the commission is currently preparing a youth survey to distribute to middle and high school students to get an idea of what activities and services Brentwood youth would like to see. Commissioners hope to distribute and collect surveys in early February, and Gary said she hopes results will be tabulated by the commission by the end of the school year, at which time the commissioners will present the findings to the City Council.
In addition to their advisory function, commission members serve as volunteers in the community and participate in local events to promote the commission’s work – events such as Marsh Creek Clean-up, Hometown Halloween, Breakfast with Santa, Liberty High School Homecoming Parade, the Holiday tree-lighting ceremony, and Tour de Starbucks.
The commission receives funding from the Parks and Recreation Department, but commission members organize their own fundraising events in order to provide scholarships to graduating high school seniors.
Gary said this year the commission raised enough money to provide four $750 scholarships to Brentwood residents. Applications are currently available at the Parks and Recreation office as well as Liberty and Heritage high schools.
In March, Gary said applications will be posted to fill four seats available for the 2009-2010 commission. Terms last for two years, and seats are available only to Brentwood residents.
Strauss said he enjoys serving on the commission because of the difference it makes in the community to “make Brentwood a better place for youth.”
Cook agreed: “All of the projects we do don’t necessarily have a humongous impact in the community, but they’re things we do to help out the community, raise money for our program, or provide Brentwood residents, young and old, with fun events to attend.”
The Brentwood Youth Commission meets on the first Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Brentwood City Hall Chambers, 734 Third St. For more information, visit the Commission online.