Making a difference: Liberty students better Issaquah community

Emily Bassett, Assistant News Editor

Imagine this scenario. You need more volunteer hours for Honor Society, and you’ve already scared all your neighbors away from your free lawn-mowing “business”. You start scouring Google in an effort to find a source, and you stumble upon the Issaquah Youth Advisory Board. You join after some paperwork and a group interview, and 3 planning-packed months later, you’ve found yourself learning communication skills and gaining connections you’ll use throughout your life.

The Issaquah Youth Advisory Board is made up of about 40 students from all around the district, from middle to high school. They plan events throughout Issaquah for students and children. These events range from social things, like the Harry Potter night for elementary school students, or to the State of Mind conference, which takes on serious issues like mental health and how to have healthy relationships.

The group also works on communication skills as well as planning events. The students go to community meetings at least once a month and are encouraged to share their ideas with the adults in the group. Students are a minority in these meetings, and talking with adults is inescapable. For sophomore Morgan Fitzpatrick, being required to talk more was a life-changing experience.

“IYAB has brought me out of my bubble; I’ve been louder and better at advocating, and I feel like I’m making a difference in the community,” Fitzpatrick says.

In addition to requiring people to talk more, IYAB has been instrumental in building leadership skills for students of all ages. From middle to high school, students are encouraged to lead events and groups of people.

“I’ve learned to love leading groups. It’s really fun and a great use of my free time.” Sophomore Kelly Ferrara said.

The board was started in the fall of 1996. Catherine Jones, the leader of the board, was hired that year. She loves working with students and considers it the best part of her job.

“I am passionate about showing how youth can be active contributors to the community,” Jones said.

Jones emphasizes how much these students help out in their communities and how beneficial they are to all those around them. These students are setting examples for younger children, through her guidance and the help of other adults around them.

“The City of Issaquah believes that youth are not only the future leaders of tomorrow, but also active civic contributors of today,” the Issaquah mission statement reads.
These students, from seventh to twelfth grade, are becoming the change their communities and encouraging others to do the same.