Newport News Youth Commissioners get to work, offer solutions to city leaders

Newport News

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — High school kids have a direct line to leaders in Newport News, through the Mayor’s Youth Commission.

Mayor McKinley Price inducted 36 members in the first-ever virtual ceremonies last week. About 58 of the city’s best and brightest meet on Monday nights throughout the school year. They’ve agreed to serve until graduation.  

According to the MYC’s Facebook page, the commissioners are “high school students chosen to represent their schools. These students work and consult with the mayor on projects throughout the year concerned with improving the conditions for youth in Newport News.”  

So, what issue is at, or near, the top, for teens? Mental health, and not just during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Naomi Hall, a Warwick High School sophomore, says a lot of her friends struggle with stress, depression and other issues. “I struggle with mental health problems and I believe that we should know the resources we have available to us.”

Fellow MYC member Devyn Rascoe, a Heritage High senior, agreed. And she did what Mayor Price expects commission members to do — offer possible solutions.

Rascoe’s idea? “Starting up small groups, and, we each have our own zoom sessions, to talk.”The MYC teens have talked about other hot-button issues of the day, such as bullying, the election.

Racism strikes a chord with Addison Parker Davis, of Hampton Roads Academy.

“In the grocery store, my father, who’s a different race than I am, is treated differently than my mother,” said Addison Parker Davis, “I just think that — this is 2020!”

Jordan Moody, a Woodside High senior, bemoans the lack of male role models among high school teachers. “I read a report, and sadly only 2% of Black males in the United States are educators. My mission is to change that with one Black male at a time.”

Some of the MYC teens are reaching out to help families in need. “I just recently made 55 boxes for Operation Christmas Child,” said Leah Louk of Menchville High.

Youth commission advisor Shavar Bland says he’ll be meeting with the teens every Monday night to help them explore their passions, come up with ideas and turn them into workable solutions.MYC chairwoman Addison Parker Davis had one goal probably all the students would agree on:  “What I really want to do is have our city be a community where everyone is welcome and everyone is equal.”

Newport News Mayor’s Youth Commission teens are also involved in community projects. To find out more about them, check out their pages on Facebook and Instagram.

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