This is a guest post from Perla Casas, a 2015 high school graduate. She will be part of the panel speaking on Sunday June 28th at 4:30 pm as part of “Empower Your Teens! Civic Engagement Strategies That Work.”
The Youth Leadership Council (YLC) is a youth-driven advisory board for the Oakland Public Library. The YLC creates support strategies to improve its service for patrons and promotes the library simultaneously. The YLC is made up of twelve individuals from the ages of thirteen to eighteen. I was sixteen years old when I first stumbled across the YLC application at the TeenZone in the Main Library. I have always enjoyed reading and I am passionate about libraries, so I thought this group would be a perfect fit for me. After a nerve wracking three month application process, I was finally accepted as a member.
The YLC meets for two hours every third Saturday of the month at the Main Library. After my first official meeting, I was given the opportunity to facilitate the next meeting. I received training and multiple handouts on how to properly run a meeting while being respectful towards my fellow members and being an effective communicator. I became more comfortable with the other Youth Leadership Council members after I facilitated my second meeting and I had a better understanding of how we function as a productive team. I was able to identify and recognize the strengths and talents of my fellow members. It was a successful meeting.
The third annual Culture Festival held by the YLC allowed my creativity and organizational skills to shine. I volunteered to be the decorations and activities director alongside my best friend, Julia. After seeing last year’s decorations, we knew we had to completely revamp them. We brainstormed all of our ideas and I created a decorations schedule in order to materialize all of our ideas. Recreating the Great Wall of China for the Oakland Public Library was our greatest accomplishment. Over 100 hours were spent on creating various cultural decorations and we made sure every culture was included. It was an arduous process but at the same time extremely rewarding. Being able to see how our decorations transformed the library was fulfilling and gratifying.
During my time as a member I feel like I have formed a bond with the Youth Leadership Council members (some of which are alumni now), the supervising librarian of teen services, Lana Adlawan, and my amazing moderators, Amy Sonnie and Jeanie Austin. Amy Sonnie gave me the confidence to join the YLC and accomplish things that I thought I never could do before. She taught me how to prosper inside and outside of the YLC. Jeanie Austin, who I have only known for a short time, has become a good friend and has given me support throughout the entire process of my last few months with the Youth Leadership Council. I am thankful and truly blessed for these wonderful, dedicated, and hardworking people in my life. My experience with the Youth Leadership Council has been unforgettable and I am proud to become a YLC alumni in the fall.