As the terms of all the current Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory Council (SCSYAC) members come to an end, they are encouraging, recruiting and preparing their peers to take over their previous positions for the next two years.
“We are here to support the youth and each other,” Chairwoman Jazmin Carmenoros stated. “Joining the Youth Council hasn’t just been fun, it has helped me gain confidence and has helped me with public speaking.”
The youth council not only volunteers at events in the community, but they all attend bi-weekly council meetings and host the annual Jimmy Newton Youth Leadership Conference for all youth from the three Ute sister tribes to attend. Each council member has been dedicated to being a voice and leader for the tribal youth. They are not only setting an example in academic achievements, but are also helping with cultural activities and other significant events important to the tribal community.
In their term alone, each council member has found a cause to support and advocate for. For the past two years all council members have attended planning sessions, public meetings and have even presented to tribal departments about the importance of creating a public space for families and community members to come together. The space that they have all envisioned and agreed upon is an outdoor skatepark, a place where new comers and seasoned skaters can meet and teach each other new tricks. “The skatepark is probably what I am most proud of being a part of since joining council,” Councilman Nate Hendren stated. “By backing up the project, we’re using our voice to help create something good.”
Each year the council hosts the Jimmy Newton Youth Leadership Conference to help youth from the area and the two sister tribes learn about their history, gain skills and work together. All Native American youth between the ages of 11-18 can attend and are encouraged to give ideas of what they would like to see as far as guest speakers, work sessions and entertainment. The Youth Council was created back in 2003 by Tribal Council but didn’t take off until Jimmy R. Newton Jr. re-amped the program and helped welcome a full Youth Council of seven young tribal members in 2014. Since then the council has stayed busy and honors his leadership with the annual conference.
In the by-laws of the SCSYAC it states that the council is needed so the voices of the tribe’s youth can be heard, and that they are going to provide opportunities for the young people which include facing important issues together. In order to grow and be heard, the enlistment of young tribal members is necessary.
“We are not just a bunch of kids, we’re leaders,” Hendren explained. “But we can’t speak for the youth if they don’t tell us what they want.” This year the council has stepped their game up and has attended events that support not only the young, but ones that help the elderly. They have read stories to the infants in the primary classes at the Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy and have volunteered numerous times at the Elder’s Celebration dinners; they even participate in the Southern Ute Tribal Fair. They are looking for more ways to directly help and impact the lives of their peers.
The council members have benefited in many ways from this program and they look forward to helping their peers and themselves. Council members expressed that they are available to talk with anyone about new ideas and events. “All of us want to help anyway we can – if you need someone to listen to you talk – find us,” Councilman Elijah Weaver emphasized.
These events that the Youth Council attend and participate in help them grow as leaders and also get them more involved within the community. “A few of the skills that the Youth Council have learned are: speaking at public events, giving welcomes, responsibility, dependability, organization, professionalism, communication, how to be respectful, and many others,” SCSYAC and Youth Employment Program Coordinator, Dustin Weaver explained. “They have learned many skills, yet they are still young and learning many things which many leaders go through.”
Seven seats will open on the youth council for all eligible Southern Ute Youth ages 11-17; each applicant will need to submit a completed application packet to the Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory and Youth Employment Program Coordinator, Dustin Weaver by the end of day Friday, Jan. 17.
Shadowing the Southern Ute Tribal Council has not only been an opportunity for learning it has given the Tribal Council a first-hand experience of how they can better serve the youth council. Council Member Cedric Chavez has stated that helping the youth is one of his biggest goals. He has already shown his support by helping with the skate park and attending as many Youth Council meetings as his schedule allows. “These guys are really working hard not only for themselves, but for all the youth in the community,” expressed Chavez.
Enrolled Southern Ute Youth tribal members can apply to join the youth council by contacting, Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory and Youth Employment Program Coordinator, Dustin Weaver at 970-563-2786 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org