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Sandy Journal

How Sandy prepares students for the real world with its youth city council program

May 07, 2024 11:26AM ● By Rebecca Olds

The Sandy Youth Council walks in the city’s 2023 Fourth of July Parade with city council members. (Courtesy Sandy City)

It’s the end of the second year of a revamped Sandy Youth Council program and a new batch of seniors are graduating. 

“I often tell the SYC to take a good look around, because I know in our group there are future council members, mayors, state and federal representatives,” said Christine Edwards, an adviser for the program. 

The SYC is made of about 25 Sandy students, ranging from sophomores to seniors who are learning that they can make a difference in their community.

“One of the three purposes of local government is to build community, our Sandy Youth Council does just that,” Council member Marci Houseman, the SYC’s city council liaison. “Through the leadership demonstrated by Chris and Liz, I have watched our Youth Council evolve from a group of individual high school students showing up for their first meeting, to a connected group of young leaders who are eager to work together to learn and serve their city.”

Wanting to have a say about what happens in his community is what made Ranveer Sahota, a senior at Waterford High School, want to be a part of the council. 

“I wanted to give better representation and influence the future of my home,” Ranveer said. “I moved here from California seven years ago, and there were things that I noticed in my city that I thought could be done better or maybe didn’t have youth representation.”

One of his motives was to save a pickleball field by his house that the city said wasn’t being used, but in his experience it was full almost every night. 

“I think the most meaningful part of the Sandy Youth Council is giving students an opportunity to lead through service and cultivate in our SYC members a sense of responsibility to their community,” Edwards said.

Since Ranveer started in the youth council program, he’s spoken in front of the whole city council on the issue and made his own voice heard. He said the takeaways that he’s learned from the council is something he’ll take with him to college. 

“I’ll probably be more involved in things in college because I now know there’s ways to get involved, even if I initially thought that I wouldn’t have much of an influence,” Ranveer said. 

“I think the amount of good you get out of it is way more than how much you have to put in,” he said. “It exposes us to a lot of things that we don’t usually pay attention to as kids.”

The youth council meets at least once a month and gets together to do service projects in the community and learn more about how city government works. 

“I learned more about my city,” Camille Liebsch, a SYC member who hopes to be a criminal justice attorney. “I learned more about the community too and their needs.”

Camille said that she has recommended joining the council to all of her friends because of the things she learned and got to participate in. She said her and fellow council members worked hard together and she values the friends she probably wouldn’t have met otherwise. 

“When creating this program, it was important to us that students from all types of schools are welcome to join,” said Elizabeth Theriault, an adviser of the program. “As long as the student is a Sandy resident, they can be enrolled in public, private, charter or home school systems. Because of this, we have students who are members of schools from all across the Salt Lake Valley.” 

The only requirements, Theriault said, are that the person must live in Sandy, be enrolled in grades 10 to 12 and submit an application. She said that applicants with these requirements haven’t been turned away so far.

Council member Brooke D’Sousa spearheaded the effort to reignite the program back in 2021 after several years of not having it. It took a year to get the program ready and the first council back started in 2022. This year’s 2023-24 council was the second year of the newly restarted program.

Theriault said the 2023-24 youth council has put in more than 300 hours of collective community service, between serving at the city’s Trunk or Treat, Fourth of July parade, Heritage Fest and serving concessions at the Theatre at Mount Jordan.

“It’s been really rewarding working with these students, and I’m excited for how our program will grow and evolve in the years to come,” Theriault said.

Applications are open for SYC 2024-25 until May 14, students can apply online at λ