Tammy Mutasa, Garland Reporter
Garland's Youth Council is giving input that could make a big impact on its city, offering input in how the city tackles its problems.
All over North Texas elections are coming up, and Garland is looking to fill some seats on its Garland Youth Council. The group of young people can have a big impact on the City of Garland.
The Youth Council started in 2005 to get teens to help tackle some of the city’s problems.
"I wanted to help out the city and try to voice the opinions of the youth and I wanted to be involved," said Tony Cleveland, a high school senior who has been on the Garland Youth Council for three years.
Garland mayor Ronald E. Jones said getting a different perspective from the youth is always key, and it helps them gain real world experience in how city government works.
"We believe that it is a living text book and it goes beyond what they read," said Jones.
Already the youth council is showing results. One of the most important issues for the council has been promoting safer driving.
"I think my life has changed a lot," said Garland Youth Council member Jessica Santibanez.
The council has been pushing the Teens in the Drivers Seat Program to reduce driving distractions like drinking or texting.
"It has made me aware of all risks that are out there and how to be a safe driver," said Santibanez.
A 2010 Texas Transportation Institute Teen Driving Safety Study Case showed the Teens in the Drivers Seat Program helped reduce teen crashes in Garland from 28 percent to 16 percent.
"You have individual peers encouraging their peers to refrain from doing things that would distract them from focusing on being safe drivers," said Mayor Jones. "And no one can say that better and more forcefully that a teenager driving themselves."
As the city searches for the 20 members for next year’s Garland Youth Council, they hope they have a passion to make a difference.
"You’ll really learn a lot," said Cleveland.
"We do have voice and that's pretty amazing," said Santibanez.
The city will be taking applications until May 18, 2012. CLICK HERE for The GYC Application Packet . It can be returned to: Garland Youth Council, P.O. Box 469002, Garland, Texas 75046.