Lake Oswego's Youth Action Council is thinking big this year — and it's paying off, says the City's Teen and Youth Program Coordinator, Cydny Fletcher.
The group, made up of 22 students from Lake Oswego and Lakeridge high schools, recently hosted its largest fundraiser ever: a teen art showcase and silent auction that raised $1,050 for the Portland-based Children's Healing Art Project (CHAP).
"They were just so committed to it," Fletcher says.
Each fall, a new group of Youth Action Council (YAC) members brainstorms volunteer projects for the coming year. This year, the group wanted a project that involved the entire community and allowed middle and high school students to showcase their artwork and support a good cause.
They came up with "Outside the Art Room," a youth art showcase and silent auction, and worked together to promote and host the event on Jan. 6 at Palisades. Twenty-five artists from local middle and high schools participated, as well as one youth artist from Eugene.
Lake Oswego High School senior Emma Bolech helped promote the fundraiser, reach out to artists and set up before the event. She says she liked the idea of supporting CHAP, which provides "engaging art experiences" to children and teens affected by pediatric illnesses or special needs, according to its website.
"What they're doing is really awesome, and it kind of showcases what art is all about and how great art can be," Bolech says. "It brings art to kids and it uses artwork as a healing process."
The Youth Action Council formed as a small teen advisory council in 2002. When Fletcher took the reins in 2007, she encouraged the teens to develop and lead their own community service projects.
For the past several years, the group has made blankets to donate to the Children's Center, a nonprofit child abuse intervention center in Oregon City. This past December, the teens opened the project up to the community and collected 75 blankets for the center.
Fletcher says that while past YAC groups have focused on projects that exclusively impact teens, lately the groups have shown an interest in helping the community at large.
"I've started to see them... look at the community as a whole and (think), 'What can we do to make things better for everybody?'" she says.