Kosrae State welcomes 16 local teens to the state’s first Youth Council
- Category: News
- Published: Wednesday, 07 December 2016 14:29
- Written by Jasmin Taylor
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November 10, 2016
Kosrae, FSM—Kosrae State government officials, families and educators gathered at the State Legislator in Tofol, Kosrae, Thursday, November 10 to honor 16 young people from the four municipalities of Kosrae.
Peace Corps Response Volunteer Connie Howard alongside Kosrae Youth Development Association President Hans Skilling spearheaded the program called The 16 Most Remarkable Teens in Kosrae. The program was first developed in the United States in 2003, as a way to promote positive peer pressure in the youth community, and increase rates of school completion while lowering rates of risk-taking and anti-social behavior.
“Youth are our future leaders, they are not problems to be fixed, but valuable resources,” said Director of Kosrae Department of Education Dr. Tulensru Waguk, during his opening remark at the ceremony. “This program will generate long-term benefits for family, community and the state of Kosrae,” he added.
This past summer, more than 80 students were nominated to be considered for selection as honorees by community members including teachers, school counselors, faith-based leaders, peers and even government officials. All nominated students received a certificate acknowledging their contributions to their community.
After multiple interviews with both Howard and Skilling, 16 teenagers ages 12 – 19, were chosen to receive awards in non-traditional categories such as cultural lifestyle, leadership, photography, courage to overcome personal adversity and emerging global leader.
The 2016 Most Remarkable Teens will also go on to represent their villages for one year as the first Kosrae Youth Council.
“I want them [the community] to see that even though teens don't have authority we can help lead our people,” said Kosrae High School Sophomore Jaime Palik, the award recipient for writing.
That was Howard’s goal when she brought the program to Kosrae.
“These students deserve to feel empowered and connected to their community,” she said.
In 2010-2012, Howard served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the West Indies, where she helped initiate the same Remarkable Teens program. Since Howard’s departure, the Department of Youth there has continued to award nominated teens by hosting the program yearly. Howard said she hopes that the program will also be sustainable in Kosrae. At Thursday evening’s ceremony, a member of the Kosrae Youth Development Association read each student profile. A glass-blown trophy engraved with the students name and award title was then presented to the honoree by either the Lieutenant Governor or a State Senator who gave both a congratulations and handshake, creating an instant relationship between the youth and their government.
“The kids rarely have this opportunity to be recognized and be active in government decisions, this will help them be more positive about where they come from,” said Yamato Melander of Utwe, who came to support his nephew Shiro Nena, awarded for civic engagement.
Now that the 16 teens have received their awards they will move on to their duties as the 2017 Kosrae Youth Council. This will include examining social development, participating in leadership workshops, project planning and recruiting youth to become involved in initiatives that they agree will benefit their community.
“I can image how beautiful Kosrae will become when the number of remarkable teens increases and this program grows,” said Senator Maker L. Palsis of Tafunsak, Kosrae.