Statewide Youth Symposium attracts hundreds of teens to Taylor this weekend

Hundreds of teen-agers will converge in Taylor March 26-28 for the 2010 Youth Symposium of the Michigan Recreation and Parks Association (MRPA).

The ninth annual symposium will include keynote speakers and a variety of sessions throughout the weekend. Sessions will focus on topics that give teens the opportunity to network with other teens and learn team-building techniques and leadership skills.

In between the sessions, there will be activities for the teens to get to know one another and hear about what other teens are doing within their communities. The event concludes with a social gathering.

Mayor Jeffrey P. Lamarand’s Youth Advisory Council was selected by the MRPA Youth and Teen Initiatives Committee to be the host organization. In fact, one of the sessions will focus on how important it is to have a youth council in every community.

“This is a great opportunity for teens to come together and network,” Mayor Lamarand said. “Having the chance to share ideas is the essence of democracy. I’m proud that the Youth Advisory Council has been able to pull this event together and that Taylor will be showcased as part of this event.”

The Taylor youth council consists of teens from Truman and Kennedy high schools and Trillium Academy. The council is responsible for promoting activities and events for teens by teens. The group has monthly meetings at the City of Taylor Department of Golf, Parks and Recreation that are supervised by adult advisor Lora Dillingham.

The council has been planning the event since July and members have been responsible for selecting all of the topics of the forum, the facilities, the activities, the sweatshirt design and even food choices. The theme is “Youth are the future – teens are the present.”

Dillingham, who is the city’s recreation program manager, agreed networking will be one of the keys to the event.

“One of the best tools in life is communication,” she said. “Giving our youth opportunities like this will give them the chance to act as leaders and be heard.

“I have been so lucky to have such a great group of kids that are willing to volunteer their time to making our community a better place – and are now excited to show off our city. These teens have really put a lot of time and energy into making this a memorable event for all of the youth councils that participate.”

Members of the Taylor Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council said they can’t wait for the festivities. Chairman Ryan Pykor said he wants to learn how other youth councils operate. Alexandra Ridley said she is looking forward to the motivating activities. Abraham Alazazi said he wanted to meet new people, while Megan Bonnici said she was excited to reconnect with the teens she met at last year’s symposium in Adrian.

“It’s exciting to have a group of kids together that have the same goals,” said Josh Brant.

“This is about bringing together a community of leadership,” added Ian Fromm.

On Friday night, there will be a “meet and greet” at the Taylor Sportsplex, 13333 Telegraph Road. Participants will be able to register and pick up their packets. Mayor Lamarand will welcome the group. A keynote speaker and members of the Taylor youth council will present some ice breakers to bring the groups together. There will be entertainment, a table game challenge, ice skating and a “sweet retreat” session.

Saturday’s events will take place at the Downriver Campus of Wayne County Community College, 21000 Northline Road, Taylor. Sessions run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Topics include employability skills, recreation opportunities, parliamentary skills, team building, problem solving and a building workshop with Home Depot. There also will be a Nature Connections Wacky Scavenger Hunt at Heritage Park.

From 6 to 8 p.m., there will be an awards ceremony and social night at the Romulus Activity Center, 35765 Northline Road. Besides a guest speaker and fashion show, participants can have fun in the indoor waterpark, rock climbing and playing basketball and video games.

The closing session will take place Sunday morning.

Sponsors of the event include Belfor, Midwestern Sanitation, National City Bank, Wade Trim, Trinity Transportation Group, Thunderbowl Lanes and Seaway Market.

For more information on the symposium, visit www.mrpaonline.org. To learn more about the City of Taylor, visit www.cityoftaylor.com.