“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
As a lifelong resident and long-serving councilwoman, I know firsthand the significance of local government in serving our community’s needs and enhancing the lives of our residents.
Whether it is the creation of new facilities, developing neighborhoods, providing high-quality transportation, quality of life amenities and more — city government plays a key role in everyone’s daily life. My belief is, the earlier you learn about your government, the more aware you will become of your civic duties and the greater an impact you can have on your community.
The city of Santa Clarita proudly offers the “Youth in Government” program to teens in our local high schools. This program provides a platform for students to actively engage in civic affairs, learn about the democratic process in the city and develop critical leadership skills that will help shape their future.
If you are a teen looking to learn more about the public sector, this is for you! From career opportunities to learning about the various functions and services provided by the city, you will experience a firsthand tour of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, as well as a Los Angeles County Fire Department fire station. This hands-on approach allows you to grasp the complexities of governing, understand the importance of collaboration and appreciate the significance of civic participation.
Beginning in August, you can explore the city, meet staff members and work on projects like graffiti removal with the Community Preservation division, creating TikToks with the Communications team, hopping on a bus at the Transit Maintenance Facility and more.
As a participant, you will also have the opportunity to sit in during the award-winning Community Court program and go behind the scenes of our Building and Safety Permit Center at City Hall.
The program runs for nine months, meeting each month at a new location. Participants will learn more about each division, ask questions and become integrated into the inner workings of the city. Through these meetings, you will gain valuable mentorship and networking opportunities by talking and working with staff members in different fields. You will also have the ability to meet local government officials, community leaders and other like-minded students, fostering connections that can lead to future internships, friendships or even careers in public service.
By gaining exposure to diverse perspectives and engaging in meaningful dialogue, you will be able to broaden your understanding of the community, develop problem-solving skills and learn more about your city.
Throughout my career as a small business owner, foreign embassy liaison and public servant, understanding how local government works has been instrumental in successfully working with communities and making choices for the betterment of everyone. The Youth in Government program cultivates a sense of empowerment among the students. As student-participants actively contribute to decision-making processes, they will realize their voices matter and that they have the potential to effect change in their community. This program nurtures their civic responsibility and encourages them to become informed and engaged citizens, ensuring that the future of Santa Clarita remains in capable hands.
To conclude the program, participants will be formally recognized by the Santa Clarita City Council during a council meeting in May 2024.
I encourage students across the city to apply for this invaluable experience that will equip them with the knowledge, skills and confidence necessary to become informed leaders and active participants in our community. If you would like to participate in the program or know an interested student, please visit santa-clarita.com/YouthInGovernment or email Christian Canales at [email protected] for more information or to apply. You will be very glad you did.
Marsha McLean is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected].