RIDGWAY — Two newly-formed youth committees have exceeded the expectations of Ridgway professionals throughout the past year.
Ridgway Main Street Program Manager Beth Shuttleworth said last spring Shuttleworth and Amy Goode of the Community Education Center met with Kyle Gordon of the Ridgway Area School District and DECA club members.
Soon thereafter, a Youth Development Committee was formed under the umbrella of the Ridgway-Elk Chamber of Commerce, which meets once a month to discuss youth community opportunities.
As Ridgway Main Street Program manager, Shuttleworth’s position is overseen by a six-board steering committee, she said.
“This became our perfect opportunity to bring students into the community,” she said.
The Chamber’s Youth Development Committee, the CEC and RMSP created the Junior Steering Committee in October, which resulted in nine students sitting on at least one of the six boards.
Throughout the past several months, the YDC developed a “business to business” meet and greet series, Shuttleworth says, encouraging local businesses to mingle with one another.
“The JSC, in addition to being assigned to one of the steering committee boards, gets involved in the regular discussion, contributes excellent ideas and have been asked to offer ideas for several questions proposed to them,” she said.
The students are also sitting on community boards, having a say in what happens where they live, Shuttleworth said.
Youth, sitting alongside those who may be 15 years older than they are, help bring fresh ideas to boards, Shuttleworth said.
“Their involvement in the community is important for getting that young voice heard,” she said. “They have lessons in technology that even my generation can’t teach others. Their voice gives a fresh opinion, and they aren’t afraid to use their voices.”
The YDC meets the first or second Monday of the month, and alternate days in the summer, Shuttleworth said. The JSC meets at 7:30 a.m. the first Tuesday of the month.
“Along the way, they probably have taught us more than they’ve learned from us,” Shuttleworth said. “The benefit ended up being greater than we could have ever expected.”