State of the Student Union

Grace Gomez-Palacio

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With a packed itinerary and bordering on overcrowded front tables, this year’s Youth Community Coalition Legislation Forum (YCCLF) talks were winding yet important, drawing representatives from local organizations and Jefferson City alike. The Forum is an annual meeting to discuss affairs regarding the younger demographics with people who would usually be far removed from those sorts of things- namely, politicians. This year’s panels included exhibitions on mental health, after school activities, adult role models, and the dangers of JUULing/e-cigarettes, all presented by experts in their respective fields, along with a couple of student spokespeople thrown in for good measure. The audience, though sizeable, came in at only around 40 or so people, and the panelists primarily directed their spiels to the 11 Missouri House of Representatives members in attendance, who would then respond with questions or comments of their own.

The presentations themselves were thorough, and each panel typically consisted of a high ranking member of a city-based community groups who would give an overview of their recent efforts and their overall mission. The mental health panel, for example, was overseen by the directors of both the Family Access Center of Excellence and Burrell Behavioral Health’s School Based Services, and touched on topics like providing safe places and individualised care for kids, while the third panelist, Ashland high schooler Sage Pfington, talked about the program she had started at her school that encouraged students to use physical exercise as a therapeutic release. Hickman junior Fletcher Orr attended on behalf of the Student Advisory Council for the panel on after school activities, and during the “adult role model” section, the executive director of Columbia’s Big Brothers Big Sisters spoke at length on the importance of social connection as an impactful learning tool for youngsters of all kinds.

The panels concluded with gratuities extended to the House members for attending, and rounds of applause for the hard work being done by the directors of these organizations, with both the audience and the politcos rapt.

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State of the Student Union