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A busy year behind scenes with Gerdon Youth Council

In a world full of adult newsmakers, the members of the Youth Council at Gerdon Youth Center are taking care of business behind the scenes, and having fun, too.
They were lugging boxes of frozen chicken at Cockadoodle Days. They sold refreshments (fund-raisers) at Art on the Square, World on the Square, and the Battle of Corydon Reenactment Weekend.
They are the GYC equivalent of student government.
This isn’t a school-sponsored event, and when members of the group were polled during a meeting Thursday, all nine present said that they participate in no extracurricular events at their respective schools.
Where would they be if not here?
Some members say that time spent in the brick building on East Chestnut Street in Corydon keeps them off the streets, but when vice president Charles Ulvi of Corydon leads the meeting with confidence, it seems doubtful he would have trouble finding a positive niche elsewhere.
This isn’t the Ulvi who first set foot in the center.
‘Overall, the center has taught me a lot, and I’ve got to teach kids things that I never thought I would be teaching,’ Ulvi said.
Linnea Bailey echoed Ulvi’s remarks, saying that after serving on the council, she is now more comfortable speaking up in her community.
Members of GYC, particularly those in leadership roles, often spend time mentoring other students. They serve as role models, listeners, even tutors in some cases.
Often, the pupil becomes a teacher.
In short, volunteering is commonplace.
Each year WLKY-TV 32 and the Spirit of Louisville Foundation give the Bell Awards to volunteers who make outstanding contributions to their community.
Harrison County’s Maggie Ratterman, Leah Lee and Tina Whittaker have all won that award, and all three served on the Youth Council.
It would be false to assume public school and GYC are worlds apart. The GYC Youth Council’s president, Will Hambley, missed the Thursday meeting because of cross-country practice at Lanesville. He also plays basketball and runs track.
‘I don’t spend as much time as I want to at the youth center because of after-school sports and activities,’ he said.
Despite those, he leads the council, sits on the Furthering Youth Inc. board that governs the center, and participates in other groups and routine activities at GYC.
Will’s dad, Charles Hambley, introduced his eldest son, Bryan, to the center, and Bryan in turn brought Will on board. At the time, Charles Hambley sat on the Lanesville Community School Corp. School Board of Trustees.
One enticement, said Sarah Heath of Mauckport, the council secretary, is ‘the Youth Council is like one big family that helps each other out.’
The group participates in a wide variety of activities throughout the year.
In January, they sent delegates to the Youth Legislative Conference in Indianapolis, a meeting of Youth Services Bureau young members. They had breakfast with state representatives and voiced concerns from the perspective of Indiana youth.
In June they were off to the Youth Citizenship Initiative in Bloomington. They participated in the mock trial of a toilet-papering teen.
YCI facilitators ‘wanted kids to understand that there is no minimum age requirement in the Bill of Rights,’ GYC Program Director Paul Ingle said.
Members of the group participated in Youth Leadership Harrison County at O’Bannon Woods State Park and in a summer enrichment program chaperoning 8- to 13-year-olds at sites including Lake Rudolph, Holiday World and Frazier Historical Arms Museum in Louisville.
Representatives of the Youth Council will be at the Youth Summit on Oct. 23 and 24 contributing in a search to ‘obtain new solutions and creative approaches from those who are directly affected by issues influencing Indiana Youth,’ Ingle said.
In addition to Hambley, Ulvi, Heath and Baily, members of the council include Josh Rogers, Vettlee Poindexter, Cody Keach, Ashleigh Cummins, Justin Marlow, Brent Kurz, Kenny Nickels and Nathan Rogers.
Membership is open to teens, and requires an application, attendance at two meetings and a vote by the existing council.
For more information, contact Ingle at the GYC at 738-1696.