Teen Advisory Committee Invaluable Leadership and Community Engagement Opportunities Available for Neighborhood Teens

By Yamini Ananth, Class of ‘19 Atholton High School and Cindy Tian, Class of ‘19 River Hill High School

Growing up in River Hill, our parents never felt the need to take our families on vacation for the 4th of July—we always packed a blanket and sat outside, watching the parade roll by with our neighbors. We never felt cheated, because we loved watching the parade and, equally important, we got tons of candy with our friends. When we reached high school, we found we could get in- volved with making floats and participating in the parade through the River Hill Community Association’s Teen Advisory Committee (TAC), an opportunity we both immediately took advantage of.

The TAC is a group of River Hill and Atholton students fo- cused on implementing and encouraging teenage participation in community service within the River Hill village. Consisting of ten members, the TAC aims to better community relations by creat- ing and aiding in village events, such as Haunted Hallow’s Eve, Breakfast with Santa, and Searching for Spring. As Co-Chairs of the TAC for the last two years, we have had lead roles in organizing these annual events and in developing a unique TAC-spon- sored event each year.

Each committee member is responsible for attending and actively participating in all TAC meetings and events. They are ex- pected to have an open and creative mind, a lively and respectful attitude, and a passion for service. Throughout the year, the TAC members negotiate with event sponsors, write donation letters, or- ganize youth volunteers, create meeting and event agendas, develop floor plans, and communicate with residents, the village staff, and other students.

There are lots of service organizations out there, but we firmly believe that the TAC brings something unique to the table. For those of us that grew up in the village, there is a real nostalgia to the events that we run, because we are recreating the magic of our childhoods for the next generation of River Hill children. We are also able to bring unique events to the River Hill community while reaching out and aiding people in need. One of the best examples was our Bob Ross Paint Night in 2018, which benefited Arts Every Day, a non-profit that brings fine arts education to underfunded schools in Baltimore County. In March 2019, we ran Coffee, Crafts, and Karaoke, an event that benefited the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in honor of Eric Weatherell, a student from River Hill and one of our peers. Through the TAC, we can address the issues we care about.

This year the TAC also established Teen Talk, a youth voice column right here in The Villager! TAC member and River Hill Senior, Ashley Chen, has been working for several months to bring high quality pieces to the newsletter, covering issues that really matter to the youth of our community, from the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal to River Hill High School’s own viral sensation, Kyle the Weatherman. We truly believe that the TAC is a gem of the River Hill community and a great opportunity for local youth engagement.

Serving on the TAC has helped us direct and channel our enthusiasm towards a good cause: giving back to the community that raised us. As freshmen in high school, we were both over-whelmed by the different opportunities and clubs that were just one interest meeting away. The TAC friend group we made in the summer prior to entering high school acted as an anchoring group of friends, peers, and mentors, who we often turned to for advice on classes, college applications, and time management. Because of the diverse nature of all the members, in addition to the small size of the committee, we created close knit relationships with students from other grades, schools, and social circles. The TAC is a community that neither of us would have found elsewhere, and we are both quite grateful for the support it has provided us.

Besides giving us a great network of friends and community members, serving on the TAC and the Village Board has enabled us, as well as the other members, to grow our confidence and personalities through the interpersonal interactions that come with planning and executing events. Through the years, all the TAC members have contacted numerous community businesses for donations, managed youth volunteers, organized events, and interacted with diverse groups of residents. They have become exceptional leaders and followers and have applied their skills gained from serving on the TAC to many other aspects of their lives; the soft skills that they learn from giving back directly to their own community are unparalleled.

The association is currently accepting applications for TAC membership! Students must be in 9-12th grade in the fall of 2019 to be eligible. Applications are available here or at Claret Hall and are due by May 31, 2019.

We strongly encourage all parents to speak with their rising high school student(s) about applying to be a part of TAC, as the experience will help them grow into more impactful, civically engaged citizens. For us, the TAC has been one of the best ways to develop valuable leadership skills while doing fun, meaningful community service and meeting great friends.

The authors of this piece are Yamini Ananth and Cindy Tian, seniors at Atholton and River Hill High School respectively. Cindy joined the TAC in 2015 and Yamini in 2016; both were appointed as Co-Chairs of the Teen Advisory Committee and Student Members of the River Hill Board of Directors in 2017 and have served two terms in this position. To learn more about the TAC, visit them on Instagram @riverhilltac.

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