The Youth Advisory Council at RAWK has been on a bit of a break since the end of the spring/school year but is now back in action! The Youth Advisory Council is a group of high school students in the Kalamazoo County who come together to create an issue of a literary magazine and work with a local artist to design the new window display for our storefront. But what exactly is a Youth Advisory Council? What or who do they advise and why does it focus on the youth? These are some questions we discussed at our first meeting on Tuesday, July 10 and again at our next meeting on Thursday, July 12.
There are different Youth Advisory Councils, or YACs, present in Kalamazoo that work with a wide variety of organizations and nonprofits. They are implemented to make sure youth in our community are being a part of decision-making and outreach no matter the work. At our first two meetings we thought about what makes youth voices so valuable. Various YAC members said youth (usually referring to individuals that range from 13 years old to 24 years old) and their voices and perspectives are important because they are more acceptable to change. Some also said that we, the youth, are simply and so fortunately the future. We have the power to advocate for positive changes in our community and connect with people close to our age. But, who are we advising and how? This was a fair question that YAC member Raili proposed. Fellow YAC member Emerson answered with, “Advisors are people who give input and suggestions to create pathways for others.” This response settled with the rest of the members, including myself. YAC provides youth in Kalamazoo the opportunity to give their input and suggestions in order to create pathways for others and themselves, which fits right in with RAWK’s mission to amplify youth voices.
This summer, our YAC has decided to put together a RAWK literary magazine. It is a big project for just the six weeks we have together, but the group of students are determined to make a version of an issue appear within the community by the end of August. The YAC members have decided that the theme of the magazine, or “RAWK Mag,” will be nature. This theme is broad and allows individuals who wish to submit the freedom to interpret it as they wish. High school students in the Kalamazoo County are allowed to submit pieces that show their relationship with nature, their impact on nature or vice versa, or describe the nature of humans, certain relationships, society, the mind, etc. The submission deadline will be August 2nd and the YAC members’ goal is to compile chosen submissions into a form of a literary magazine that truly captures the youth voices present in our community.
We hope you all can join us or pass this on to someone who can assist in this creation, whether it be by joining our YAC or by submitting their work. Follow RAWK’s social media platforms and watch out for flyers in the Kalamazoo community for more details about submissions. We are ready to create pathways for all starting here and now.