Youth Advisory Council looks to bigger, better future
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Sun., Jun. 12, 2011
Glastonbury’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC) reflected on its successful year and bid adieu to its five graduating seniors at its annual barbecue on June 8.
Youth Officer Kristina Vetrano said the year was great for the growth of the group, which expanded from 12 to 18 members.
“This group of kids has been extraordinary,” Vetrano said. “I was so honored to work with such a great group.”
During the past year, the YAC was chosen to present at a state conference for the first time, and took part in the Empowering Families event at Smith Middle School, as well as hosting a forum on teen smokeless tobacco use in May.
The departing seniors were given plaques that all have symbols of a lightning bolt – something that was significant at a retreat the members attended as part of the mock crash they presented at Glastonbury High School– and the plaques have room within the frame for written thoughts from fellow YAC members.
The YAC also elected new officers for next year. Sophomore Alex Bzdyra will be the new YAC president. Sophomore Emil Atz will be next year's vice president. Freshman Stephanie Consoli will be secretary, and sophomore Paige Cantwell will be the new press liaison.
YAC members will also be presenting at the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention’s national leadership conference on underage drinking in Orlando, Fla., in August.
“YAC will be presenting the same program we did at the state PAWS conference for high-schoolers this past spring,” Cantwell said. “It's called ‘The Method Behind Your Message,’ and it's about the different ways organizations can promote [prevention of drug and alcohol abuse] through the media. This is our first year presenting, so that will be exciting.”
“We're looking at samples of prevention messages,” said YAC member Leonard Slutsky, who attended last year's national conference. “Groups can take from that, and bring it back to their organizations.”
Slutsky, an outgoing senior, said the YAC has taught him a lot.
“I've been able to give back to the community in a way I wouldn't have imagined before,” he said. “YAC is in a position to work with teens, town agencies, and other government agencies, and it's been a great opportunity to work with others and work on the issues in a place like Glastonbury.”
Slutsky is headed to Ithaca College in the fall, to study business and communications. “I hope to continue this sort of activity in college,” he said. “Whether it's community service or government, it's really important that everyone gets involved in some way.”
Bzdyra said he hopes to help YAC to continue what it has done, but take it to the next level.
“The first part is to get our name out there more,” Bzdyra said. “We did great this year. For the most part, we're going to do the same things we're doing, and just expand upon them and get out there more.”
He added that he thinks next year's town hall forum will likely re-focus on alcohol and drug abuse.
“I think that just attracts more people in town, because it's a bigger issue,” he said.
Atz said he might like to see a second forum added, so that both issues could be addressed again.
The longer-term future looks bright for the YAC, as well.
Robbie Kasper, who will be a freshman next year, just completed his first year with the group.
“I really like this group,” Kasper said. “I really like the way it represents the youth, in cooperation with the community, in facing the devastating problems such as alcohol and drugs. I've seen things happen to kids I know. I really like the fact that we're trying to help stop and prevent it.”