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Sandy Journal

Sandy City Youth Council Mayors Ready to Lead, Learn About Community

Oct 04, 2016 03:46PM ● By Julie Slama

Shelby Hewitt, Melissa Regalado and Boyd Christiansen were sworn in as Sandy City Youth Council mayors Sept. 6 by Judge Paul Farr. (Marsha Millet/Sandy City)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

When Sandy teenager Shelby Hewitt was looking for ways she could volunteer in the community, her mother suggested Sandy City Youth Council.

“It honestly was the best decision I could have made,” the home-schooled senior said. “I have learned more about the process of the city and am out in the adult world making a difference.”

After serving on the youth council last year, Shelby was asked, along with Jordan High senior Boyd Christiansen and Hillcrest High senior Melissa Regalado, to serve as this year’s youth mayors.

“I was absolutely surprised and honored to be asked,” Shelby said. “I really love being a part of the council and learning about city government and learning how everything works together as well as giving service.”

The youth council, which typically has about 25 high school members, meets weekly to learn about Sandy government, participate in community service projects and have social or educational experiences, such as bringing in speakers.

For Shelby, it’s a fun way to meet people.

“It’s my favorite way to meet other teenagers who have similar interests and goals, who want to learn and have fun.  I really have a good time and these youth council members care about where they live and want to learn more about it,” she said.

The group was sworn in Sept. 6 by Judge Paul Farr with Mayor Tom Dolan and Councilmember Steve Fairbanks in attendance.

Then, on Sept. 20, they boarded a bus and toured Sandy with Dolan, who answered questions and pointed out new developments.

“Meeting the mayor was a highlight. It’s pretty cool he took the time to talk to us and ask us questions. Councilman Steve Fairbanks is very amazing, just hearing of his life experiences, and his wife is very kind,” Shelby said.

For fellow youth mayor Boyd Christiansen, who plans to oversee the council learning about the different parts of government, he appreciates the opportunity to learn about it firsthand.

“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to get a ‘behind the scenes’ look at how our city government functions,” he said. “It’s a complicated balance to strike to keep all the stakeholders in mind as they make decisions for our city. I feel it’s given me a new perspective on my city — something I probably would have taken for granted otherwise. I think this position will help me in the future by helping me to be ready to look at multiple points of view and multiple solutions when I am trying to work successfully with others in a corporate or community setting. This year I’m hoping that we can hear from those involved in Sandy’s business development area, specifically about the new Cairns development plan. I want the (youth council) members to understand what’s on the horizon for Sandy as we become adults and what opportunities it presents for our peers.”

Although Boyd knew about the youth council his sophomore year, he didn’t apply until his junior year as he had conflicts previously when the council met.  

The Sandy teen has been a Brigham Young University engineering department research assistant, participated in a Duke University talent identification program and currently serves as Jordan High’s student government vice president. As a member of the National Honors Society and an Eagle Boy Scout, he is one of the founders of his school’s Maker Collective Technology Club and is an academic tutor and link crew member, a group that helps freshmen adjust to high school life.

Now, after serving for his junior year and stepping into the role as mayor, he is a firm believer of the youth council. He hopes to encourage others in its mission.

“I hope to learn how to take on additional responsibility successfully and how to be an advocate for learning about local government,” he said.

The third mayor, Hillcrest High’s Melissa Regalado, joined to serve her community when she recognized the need.

“Over Thanksgiving last year, we helped single moms and kids by organizing clothing and doing some crafts with the kids,” she said. “That was one of my favorite things, helping them out.”

This year, Melissa oversaw the youth council as the group brainstormed plans they wanted to accomplish this year, from learning about forensics with the city’s crime lab to visiting the state capitol and the Matheson Courthouse and from planting trees near a golf course to helping seniors make gingerbread houses.  

“I’ve learned so much through the youth council and now have been given a chance to be a bigger part of it,” Melissa said. 

She said that through teamwork, she hopes the group will learn skills, such as organization and communication.

“For me, this will help me with public speaking. As a freshman, I was very shy. I couldn’t even talk to the person next to me. Now even though I’m nervous, I’m proud that I’m able to speak in public and that has given me more confidence,” she said.

That will help her now as she is involved in school activities as well as in the future.

Melissa has been president, and currently serves as vice president, of Hillcrest’s Key Club, a group dedicated to giving community service; she mentors students through the Peer Leadership Team; is a member of the link crew; is a member of the National Honors Society and is a member of the cross-country and track teams. She also volunteers three hours each week at Primary Children’s Medical Center and holds a part-time job.

“I was pretty excited (when asked to serve as mayor). I kept saying ‘thank you’ so many times. I’m very happy for this opportunity,” Melissa said. “I think as youth mayor, I can develop and refine my leadership skills and to be organized. I’ve learned every minute counts and I need to be productive so there is no time to waste.”

For the past 22 years, Marsha Millet has been advising the youth council.

“This is my favorite part of my job,” Millet said, adding that former council member, Justin Homer, is helping advise the group this year. “They build relationships with each other and the community. They work together as a team and develop individually. Boyd is a respectful, super kid. Shelby reaches out to others to get them to participate and is reliable. Melissa is a great kid who is service-minded and who is willing to do what it takes to be a good mayor. The council is a great group of young people who are learning the tools to help them become leaders and succeed.”