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May 17, 2010

Guest writer: Don’t lose the teen perspective in city government

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.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Enough with the whining about cutting city funded programs. If you don't like it move to....or wait. No other cities subsidize all these programs like Walnut Creek does! Stupid city leaders-goes to show you no good deed goes unpunished. Stick to the basics and put the rest away for the next rainy day.

Anonymous said...

Why should the tax payers pay for this. Shouldn't teens learn this type of responsable behavior at home, by something called a parent. Oh that's right they wait for someone else to do it.

Anonymous said...

Reading the comments of Anon 2:29 and 3:50 are the reason why I don't come to read this blog that often anymore.

You are just so narrow minded and bitter .... asking why teens shouldn’t learn, the behaviors they learn in WC Youth Council at home? Are you kidding?? You can't see the difference between home and a Youth Council? You can't see that our next generation can learn valuable skills by interacting in a quasi government setting?

It is exactly folks like 2:29 and 3:50 who have not learned these values. That's how we end up with a bunch of teabaggers such as 2:29 and 3:50 and the rest of the cabal.

To Katie if you are reading the comments. I salute you for all you are doing. I'm sure sometimes it might be easier to just hang out at the mall, but believe me we need future leaders like you. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:33

What you and this yong lady are missing is that according to the last counsel meeting 35 city staff are losing their jobs and to continue to fund programs like Katies more jobs will be lost. I guess because it's not your job or Katies parents job your both o.k. with that. So much for civic duty.

Anonymous said...

Well dear Anon 4:56 I will not engage in discussion with you, beyond the point I have already made. Don't blame the youth who is engaged in our city for the layoffs at city hall.

If you want to find the real guilty, take a look at the nearest mirror and you will see the culprit together with your fellow teabaggers.

But thanks again for proving my point. I will stop at this point and will not further engage with you.

Yours truly
4:33

AKA Soccer Mom said...

Readers,
I think it's fair to debate whether the city should fund certain programs, including the youth council, when other programs are being cut.

But I applaud Ms. Lanfranki for speaking up and informing the community about how this program has impacted her life. She and other students on the council sound like real credits to Walnut Creek. As a parent of a sixth grader, I loved hearing how about her experience and loved hearing about how this program challenged her in positive ways. I very much appreciate her willingness to share it with readers of this blog.

Readers can be tough on this blog. I know. I've been tough myself at times--and negative.

I hope that we can all be constructive in the comments here, especially when we have someone like Ms. Lanfranki, not a seasoned public official or business person, sharing an honest perspective.

Thanks, Katie. You did a great job speaking in front of the City Council. And thanks again for sharing what you said to the council with my readers.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid 4:33 is an example of a frightening type of liberal -- insulting, rude, condescending, and ignorant of reality. I won't use any rude terms such as 4:33 employed.

The kids of today need to learn that there isn't an endless amount of money to spend on government/social programs. Prudence dictates that when the budget is out of balance cuts must be made.

It's great that Katie cares enough to argue her point, but more than likely the program will still be cut. That's reality.

Anonymous said...

Katie L. is an awesome kid. A real top-notch kid in W.C.

Anonymous said...

Waaaaaaaaaah, waaaaaaah, waaaah. Another child with a sense of entitlement but kudos to her for speaking up.

However, the reality is that the city has to cut the budget. If you compare the city council's subsidies in the past years that they have been MORE than generous to non-profits and these programs.

Be thankful for what you have because tomorrow it may be gone. Reality check!

Anonymous said...

I just wonder what world these teabaggers live in? How come you call things like the Walnut Creek Youth Council a social program or an entitlement?

This is not a social program it is meant to foster the leadership of tomorrow. I just want to be very clear I don't support such institutions just because I agree with some of the more sane posters here that Katie must be an awesome kid, but because for the very selfish reason that I know that we need future community leaders with the skills Katie and her peers are learning in the WC Youth Council.

Anonymous said...

I'm really tired of the teabaggers, too! A bunch of bitter, selfish, stingy, vindictive, mean-spirited and hateful people.

Anonymous said...

The use of the term "teabagger" is bitter, vindictive, mean-spirited and hateful, not to mention rude and disgusting.

Anonymous said...

And that's why the term is such a great match for your group.