Members of the City’s Youth Leadership Council are utilizing their platform to educate and encourage peers when it comes to local government and improving the lives of youth.
“They expressed a lot of passion around the mental health of their peers and of themselves and making sure that people in their peer group knew about the resources available in the community,” Lewiston City Council Member Cari Miller said.
Since this group was formed roughly six months ago, they’ve been researching current issues for youth in our community and brainstorming efforts to help create awareness.
The groups’ first project involves educating their peers about a newly-formed nonprofit that serves local students ages 12 through 17; the LC Valley Youth Resource Center.
“Guests can do laundry, they can take showers, we have clothing for them, we have personal care items, and we have an assortment of services that they can choose from,” Director of the LC Valley Youth Resource Center Michelle King said.
In the six months that the drop-in center has been open, King says they’ve helped prevent three suicides. Since the beginning of the year, they’ve welcomed nearly 40 guests.
“Lewiston and Clarkston High School estimate that on any given night in our community, there are 30 children who are looking for a safe place to sleep; 30 high school students,” King said. “There is no gauge on how many junior high or middle school kids there are, but I will tell you more than half of our guests come out of the middle schools.”
Every day, from 2:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m., the LC Valley Youth Resource Center welcomes local teens to utilize the facility’s drop-in services.
“I would really like to see, in the community, it is more sought out to students because I think there’s a lot of students that really need this environment, but they just don't even know it exists,” Allison Jacks, LHS Senior, and Youth Leadership Council Member said.
Lewiston or Clarkston students who need a safe place to sleep and meet one or more of the following criteria may check-in at 7:00 p.m. for overnight accommodations:
Youth who are experiencing a family crisis to the point where safety, physical health, or emotional health is at risk.
Youth who have been asked to leave their residence.
Youth who are homeless or couch hopping from place to place.
Youth who are being physically, sexually, or emotionally abused and need to get help.
Other situations that are a crisis for the youth (i.e. youth is lost, youth’s guardians cannot be located, etc.).
The center can host up to 16 displaced teens each night.
“I think that this is a great thing for our community and for our youth to be involved in. I just welcome any kid that needs somewhere to go, somewhere to get something to eat, to take a shower, anything, just hang out with their friends. This is a great place,” Lewiston City Council Member Cari Miller said.
The Youth Leadership Council is helping spread the word to their peers through the channels they know how to use best: social media posts, word of mouth, and spending time with friends at the facility.
“The goal, I think, is to have more students actually hear about this place and know that if they are in need of that they can come here and be comfortable here, and just know that it's not only a necessary place, but it's a fun and cool environment to be around with peers,” Jacks said.
Learn more about the Youth Leadership Council.