Organization keeps growing and expanding range of projects, from murals to community connections

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: CITY OF GRESHAM - Greshams Youth Advisory Council presented its year-end report during the City Council meeting Tuesday, June 5.Gresham's Youth Advisory Council has big plans for the future — from completing murals across Rockwood in conjunction with the Gresham Police Department to recruiting more enthusiastic youths from the local high schools.

The Youth Advisory Council (YAC), formerly Committee, gave its annual report to the Gresham City Council during its Tuesday, June 5, meeting highlighting the many accomplishments from its busiest year.

"Thank you for being great leaders and great examples," said Gresham Councilor Mario Palmero.

In 2017-18 the group attended the first State of Oregon Youth Summit in Salem, expanded YAC meetings from once a month to twice a month to accommodate more presenters and resources, completed a mural in Rockwood to highlight diversity and inclusion, and completed a rebranding of the group.

"We have gotten a lot of exposure to other organizations, and were able to bring those ideas back to our community," said Teo Ramirez, YAC chairman.

The council was able to reach more students this year at all the high schools and some middle schools in Gresham, and during the recent Youth Summit in May handed out more than 50 applications. The group wants to continue connecting with the community and bring back events such as the Halloween Trot.

YAC was formed in January 2010, and this past year had 14 dedicated students, many of whom attended the council meeting.

"I was here when this was first launched, and you have far exceeded what I ever imagined," said Councilor Karylinn Echols. "I think you are making a huge difference."

The group advises the City Council on issues that affect youth in the community, provides youth perspective on key projects and assists with service projects. Several of the YAC members have applied for SummerWorks internships at the city of Gresham, and many of the seniors are planning for their college experiences.

"It's been beneficial for us to hear your voice and have some young people around here," said Mayor Shane Bemis. "Go get your degrees and then remember to come back to your community."

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