Youth Council Builds Leadership Skills
Citizens are often required to speak on behalf of young people with special needs to ensure their needs are met.At Hope, we believe it’s important to also provide the opportunities and platforms for our students to advocate for themselves. One way students accomplish this is through Hope’s Youth Council, which was established in 2007 as a way to allow students’ voices to be heard.
“We’re giving students the chance to tell us what they want,” said Greg Brown, co-chair of Hope’s Human Rights Committee, which works to protect student rights. “Students become empowered and gain vital skills to increase their independence as they grow into productive adults.”
As part of its mission statement, the council seeks to ensure student rights are protected and every student’s life is full of fun, joy and choices in a safe environment.
The council is made up of about 20 students with at least one representative from each campus housing unit and community home. Each spring, students vote using a picture ballot to decide which students will serve as council president, vice president, secretary and treasurer.
The elections help prepare students to participate in democracy as adults, and several Hope students are registered voters.
Before the election, students create campaign signs and banners that are posted around the Hope campus in Springfield. The council functions similarly to a high school student council and teaches Hope students about civic engagement and fosters leadership skills.
Students meet twice a month and participate in fun activities, as well as discuss recreation nights and fundraising. The council has ushered in a number of changes, including adding dining menu options and additional field trips.
During meetings, staff members and students review human rights, including the right to be safe, attend school, receive medical treatment and own personal items.
At Hope, we support children and families to achieve optimum growth, independence and joy.
The Hope Institute
15 East Hazel Dell Lane
Springfield, IL 62712