by Mayor Tammy

July marks the introduction of many new laws and legislation passed during the winter legislative session. Among this year’s new updates is a piece of legislation spearheaded by the Meridian Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (MYAC).

Our MYAC members research topics of concern to teens each year to bring forward and share with legislators. This year their interest was organ donation. As they learned more about this topic - the parameters surrounding who could be a donor and how that affects teens their age - they decided they wanted to do more. They hosted a legislative breakfast with local legislators and found an advocate in Rep. Jason Monks who committed to help carry their legislation. This group of ‘world changers’ successfully presented the legislation to a House committee, then later the Senate; they affected change. House Bill 546 changes the age teens are allowed to be an organ donor from 16 to 15, with parental/guardian consent. As well, their advocacy is also hoped to ensure the organ donor stamp is on their license and organ donation is more prominently noted in the driver’s training book.

The teens were passionate about this bill because as they researched it, they found this new law could result in a larger pool of organs available for adolescent and young adults who are on the waiting list. A startling statistic they learned was that 18 people under the age of 30 die per day while on the waiting list. Typically, there is a 10-year window for donation, so by allowing 15-year-olds the ability to register as donors, it opens up the possibility for more children in the 5-year-old age group to benefit from the donation. A one-year change that can make a huge difference! Aside from hoping to increase access to organs, the teens are hoping it will increase more dialogue about organ donation in homes, schools, and other social environments.

As I reflect on this bill, I can’t help but think of all the other things the teens involved in MYAC accomplished during this past school year. They organized events such as a Town Hall meeting with the City Council candidates in September, put on the ever growing and popular Trunk or Treat, held the annual ‘Ignite Youth’ and more! They gave back to the community by putting together a Sock Drive (collecting 222 socks), supported the Pointe of Hope Suicide Awareness Run (raised $6,727.06 for the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline), participated in Rake-Up Meridian and the American Heart Association/Dutch Bros CPR Day.  The list goes on and on, but one of their most notable projects now stands in one of our regional parks. The teens completed the participatory budgeting process, which took hours of research and planning and resulted in a new Memorial Plaza in Kleiner Park, where citizens can honor loved ones with an engraved paver. In total, MYAC students volunteered more than 5,100 hours this past year!

MYAC was created to serve our community but in so many ways they do more than that – they inspire! I’m always impressed with our next generation and their motivation to make things better. There is a great set of new leaders who will serve on the Executive Council of MYAC, and I can’t wait to see how they give back to our youth, our City and our State!

If you are reading this and want to learn more, or you have a student who would be interested in the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council visit meridiancity.org/myac or email the MYAC Advisor, Jodi St-Martin, at jst-martin@meridiancity.org.

MYAC teens after this year’s Legislative Breakfast with City and State leaders. January, 2018

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