Christopher Soto will be the first youth to become a sworn member of the Hollister Parks and Recreation Commission tonight, February 25th at 6pm at the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting in City Hall. Christopher, along with the other Youth Alliance Youth Advocates for Health, have made it their mission to promote healthy food and physical activities in the City of Hollister. His induction into the Commission is a wonderful achievement for both youth involvement in the community and the promotion of healthy foods and activities.
The Youth Advocates for Health, a Youth Alliance program funded by The Health Trust, have advocated for access to healthier foods and physical activity programs in the community for the past two years.
Their initial task was to conduct focus groups and surveys in English and Spanish to assess the needs of the community regarding access to healthy foods and physical activities. The data revealed that the biggest barrier for low-income youth to participate in organized physical activities was lack of funds. In order to address this issue, the Youth Advocates are working with local partners to create a Resolution from the Hollister City Council to designate and support a Youth Scholarships Fund for low- income youth to participate in Parks and Recreation Programs. This fund can be partially subsidized by fundraisers, foundations, and grants. The Advocates are working with San Benito County Parks and Recreation to discuss possible collaborative efforts and a joint Resolution.
Another priority discovered was to integrate youth leadership and voice in planning and decision-making for land use and other City efforts. The Youth Advocates have worked with the team at the City Planning Department to prioritize outreach efforts that include youth as partners with adults in setting priorities and culturally responsive resident engagement. It is their goal to work with the City Planning Department to incorporate priority practices and policies that will embed these engagement efforts as a distinct method for ongoing planning.
The third goal for the Youth Advocates was to gain youth representation on a city level board or commission with equal voting rights. This will be fulfilled at the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting tonight. The Youth Alliance Youth Advocates are appreciative of the support from Clay Lee and the City of Hollister Staff, the Commission, the City Council, and the other County and community supporters. Youth Advocates for Health Members are: Jose Sainz, Stephanie Ponce, Demarie Gutierrez, Isabelle Acosta, Roberto Olvera, Daniela Salazar and Middle School student Leslie Olvera. A video and photo documentary of the process will be available on the YA website in March. For more information on Youth Alliance programs please go to the website www.youthall.org and Facebook.com/youthall.