Authored by Carol Hendrycks, Youth Services Communications Manager
Each year the Commission On Youth Board which is staffed by Salt Lake County Youth Services and appointed by the Salt Lake County Mayor, present volunteers with a prestigious award for their outstanding achievements in advocating for youth in their community during the course of the previous year. “The annual COY awards event is an opportunity to recognize an organization and individual for their exemplary work in assisting youth to engage in meaningful opportunities which contribute to the health and wellness of our society,” says Deb Ashton, Murray School District Prevention Programs and long-standing COY member and former vice chair for the board.
The Commission On Youth board has been in practice for more than 2 decades and honors some of the most humble and caring groups and individuals. The board is made up of 25-30 individuals from within Salt Lake County from the public, private and nonprofits sectors with leaders from each of the respective organizations such as state representatives, law enforcement, school districts administrations and or parent representatives, local businesses and nonprofits such as 211 United Way and VOAUT. There are specific positions to fill; members are recruited from existing members and appointed/confirmed by the Salt Lake County Mayor. The board is responsible for advocating for youth through providing policy changes, supports relevant events, deals with hot topics that effect youth and families particularly underserved populations but limited to, helps direct the county youth government committee and chairs their board and their activities through the year. The board meets once a month here at Salt Lake County Youth Services, lunch is donated by a member of the board, guest speakers address the members on a relevant topic, organizations provide a highlight overview of their mission, networking and providing a sounding board for many community issues are discussed regarding the health and well-being of youth in our communities, both mental and physical attributions that are being positive or negatively impacting youth in school setting, by a policy or societal pressure, academic challenges, health concerns and where resources can be found for youth and families seeking a specific service. Information is provided back out to their organizations through the members, websites, materials or events are scheduled. Recommendations can and have been made to the Mayor and other council for recommendations that could be a policy change or community awareness notice.
With that said, the role of the board is vast and full of leaders and influencers that have the insight and firsthand knowledge of what a particular problem they may all be facing in their organizations that help and advocate for youth. In this vein, COY seeks to acknowledge the work of so many in our county that do the work, go the extra mile to ensure that youth and families are served, find resources and provide a means to helping them succeed or overcome a barrier that will provide good to those they serve and make a difference in the community.
“The annual COY Awards honor two groups and two individuals, an adult and a youth in each category who exemplify the qualities the COY stands for–advocacy, guidance, and prevention on behalf of the youth in Salt Lake County. It is wonderful to see the many groups and individuals who exemplify service for youth in our county, and to see how thrilled they are to be honored. These awards really speak to why government exists–to serve people and to encourage them to be active participants in their communities,” Representative Carol Spackman Moss, Utah House of Representatives, District 37, Holladay and Murray and COY executive member.
Sydney Barnes who is a senior at Juan Diego High School and volunteers for a variety of capacities at the Children’s Justice Center and
Skyline High School Community of Caring Program comprised students dedicated to serving their school and outside community working with underprivileged youth. (Read the full proclamation here)
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams presented these awards on May 9th during the County Council session at the Government Center. Mayor McAdams acknowledged their excellence in service by reading the proclamation, presenting the awards and certificates to them. Family, friends and work associates attend to support the winning recipients. Media is alerted and usually run a story that highlights some positive outcomes that what most of the winners claim are just ordinary individuals that come together to find a need and help those youth and families find resources or they themselves provide the service that is needed. It is a show of goodwill and kindness that provides examples of great leadership, compassion and that ability to put action into motion to solve problems or provides the means to create a better human condition for many. There are many volunteers doing great work in our county and it is always a difficult vote for the COY members to narrow down the winners. So congratulations to those that were also nominated too and please know your work did not go unnoticed. Please submit your nominations again this next year.
Congratulations again for all the hard work these winners have put forth out in the community. We look forward to seeing many more years of your great service.