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Navajo middle school youth council captures hearts

 A new youth council from the Navajo nation captured the hearts of attendees at the UNITY Midyear Conference. A big reason may have to do with their ages. The District 17 Youth Council members are made of youth ages 10 to 12 years old. The youth council, from the communities surrounding Gallup, New Mexico, became an affiliate just one week prior to the midyear conference. Most affiliated UNITY youth councils are made up of high school and college age youth. The conference attracted a record 450 participants from around the country.

The fact they are still in mostly in middle school didn’t stop the group from participating in all aspects of the conference including completing an action plan curriculum. Trainers led youth councils and individual attendees through a 10-step action planning process, which can be used to plan community service projects. The District 17 Youth Council was selected by their peers at the conference to be one of four main presenters in front of the general assembly.
Each Youth Council at Midyear Conference were paired with a UNITY Peer Leader and Trainer to guide them through the curriculum. “I got the pleasure to work with the District 17 youth council which was so exciting” said National UNITY Council’s Western Representative Tyloria Antone. [pictured above] “They had so much good responses and had so much great ideas to bring into their communities. They made many solutions to help out what it is that they were bringing light onto such a big topic. I know when they grow up they will all be so successful and help out their people. I hope to see them very soon and see what great things they have done.” Both Executive Committee Representative Antone and lead UNITY trainer Marcus “Emcee One” Guinn were impressed with the youth’s enthusiasm and focused participation.

The group discussed their action plan to address poverty on the Navajo Nation, which included a six-step process. “The first step is to write letters to the tribal and federal (leaders), the second step is financial education for the youth to teach them how to spend their money right, the third step is a food drive, the fourth step is a donation center, the fifth step is a community garden, the sixth step is to (create and) offer summer jobs and jobs in general” said one of the youth. The presentation included S.M.A.R.T. goals and a timeline.

“There were a few tears in the audience, including from me because this group, as young as they are, showed how deeply they care about their community and the future of their people. Their message touched hearts. They don’t want people to live in poverty. They want to build people up, which is what UNITY is all about. Our slogan is ‘Inspiring Hope, Changing Lives,’ and that’s what their action plan focused on,” said Mary Kim Titla, UNITY’s Executive Director. “These young people are destined for greatness. I can’t wait to see what they will accomplish in their lives.”
UNITY wishes the District 17 Youth Council the very best!