Katie Lanfranki, a junior at Las Lomas High School, appeared at the City Council meeting two weeks ago to explain why the city should not discontinue its teen programs, including its Youth Council, as it tries to balance its 2010-12 budget.
Lanfranki is vice president of the council and a five-year member. Here is a excerpt from the statement she read to the council:
The Walnut Creek Youth Council consists of 20 diverse Walnut Creek teenagers ranging from grades seven to twelve. We are not only just a group of teenagers thrown together, but we are a family. The Walnut Creek Youth Council began in the 1970s. That’s over 40 years that teens have been providing a teenage aspect for the City of Walnut Creek.
Now I could give you a list of the plethora of projects we have worked on over the years such as the Walnut Creek Library teen section, Walnut Creek Skate Park, and the General Plan 2025, but I not here to talk about those things. … I’m here to tell you what the Walnut Creek Youth Council means to me.
When I was about 12 years old I applied for the Walnut Creek Youth Council. This was the first interview I ever had and I was indescribably nervous. After somehow surviving the interview and making it onto council, I was placed with a group of about 19 high schoolers. These big older kids intimidated me so much that I was afraid to even say a word at the first meeting. And for those that know me, it is usually hard to get me to stop talking. But after much comfort and many welcomes, the group helped my open up.
This is where I first learned to become a team player. Sure I had done group projects in school and played sports all my life, but the Walnut Creek Youth Council tested me. I had to learn patience and that my ideas were not always the best. I used to always need to be the leader growing up, and I was used to always being right. But council taught me otherwise.
With the help of Lisa Geerlof and my 19 other siblings, I learned how to truly work as a team and family. I learned to speak, listen, and learn. That once outspoken juvenile adolescent seemed to disappear over my time with council. I was able to take my new skill and apply it to school which helped me earn other leadership positions.
The Walnut Creek Youth Council taught me patience and helped me grow up but for many other students it’s a place where the once shy but secretly intelligent can blossom. It helps teens expand their horizon by learning to be creative, outgoing, and lead. You really can’t be shy when you are meeting important people like the mayor of Walnut Creek.
Cutting the Walnut Creek Youth Council would be cutting a family. Cutting the Walnut Creek Youth Council would be hurting teens. Cutting the Walnut Creek Youth Council will put Walnut Creek a step backwards in their growth and development by taking away such a big percent of their population’s perspective.