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Fife Youth Commission awards outstanding young people

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Columbia Junior High School was an epicenter of activity the evening of May 19, with youth being front and center of all that was going on.

Outside on the campus grounds, a 5K run/walk was being held to help the school’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) team raise money for a Make-a-Wish child, while inside the cafeteria a district-wide art show was underway to showcase the stunning artistic talents of Fife students young and old. This set the perfect stage for what was taking place in the school’s performing arts center, as the Fife Youth Commission presented its second annual Youth Recognition Awards Night.

Choosing from a pool of well-deserved nominees, the Commission selected 12 youth raging from 4th-grade to high school senior to receive an award from one of four categories: outstanding leadership, significant volunteerism, talent in the arts and one Step Up award for contributing to the community and/or overcoming obstacles that led to personal growth. The requirements for any nomination were that the individual must be between 5 and 18 years old and live, work or go to school in the greater Fife area. See the full list of winners accompanying this article.

Emcee for the evening was Rebecca Dickson, chair of the Fife Youth Commission. “The Fife Youth Commission feels it is important to recognize young people in our community and this is what this evening is all about,” she told the audience. “Regardless of the award they receive, the young community members in this room are the current and future leaders in their lives and in the community.”

As keynote speaker, members of the Youth Commission chose Puyallup Tribal Council Member David Bean, a nationally recognized leader in the Northwest and national tribal communities. A father of five and granddad to three, Bean spends a lot of time with his own children and children throughout the tribal community and beyond. An authentic role model for youth, Bean is often seen at Chief Leschi Schools encouraging the youth and taking real interest in them and promoting positive, healthy lifestyles to help young people live their best life.

Bean started out by sharing five traditional lessons that he has learned in his life that he said have helped him on his life’s path:

  • Work cooperatively together for the good of our people.
  • Our older children look out for our younger brothers and sisters.
  • We respect the visions of others.
  • Our way is giving and sharing (material things and time) – if a person is greedy, we are taught that they will lose everything in the end.
  • We honor a person for what they have done for their people, not what they have done for themselves

“That was my favorite one growing up,” he said of the fifth lesson he shared. In addition to being on Tribal Council, Bean is also the Northwest delegate for the National Indian Gaming Association.

“I didn’t get there by accident. How I got there was by volunteering. My mother (Gloria Bean) taught me to always volunteer wherever I go – to ask where help is needed.”

To further illustrate his point, Bean used the analogy of something learned while camping in explaining how to better one’s community. “One of the first lessons we’re taught when we go camping as children is to leave the place better than when you found it. When you hear that over and over, it resonates and you begin to embody that lesson. So for those of you who volunteer and participate in leadership positions and want to improve your communities, you embody that lesson.”

Bean used another metaphor to offer the youth some advice as he closed his address. “I have a SIM card, but it’s not what you put in a phone. My SIM card means ‘Stay In Motion.’ Life is going to knock you down and throw obstacles in your way. Stay in Motion – you’re going to fall down, and you might even fail sometimes – but you need to pick yourself up and keep moving forward.”

Looking on to next year’s awards, Dickson said the nomination process for 2017 would open next April. Anyone over the age of 16 is invited to nominate an outstanding local youth.

She also said the Fife Youth Commission has one open seat. The application process to become part of the Commission is on the City of Fife’s website at Current Commissioners are Rebecca Dickson, Estelle Nguyen, Taylor Hospenthal, Maya Anderson, Sieona Squally, Kelly Phan, and Rayanna Wenning.

Thanks were given to those who gave invaluable help with planning, marketing and execution of the event: Director of Fife Parks and Recreation Kurt Reuter; Fife Recreation Coordinator Debbie Goff; City of Fife office assistant Brenda Garci; and,

Fife City Council members with a special shout out to Bryan Yambe for his efforts with the Fife Youth Commission and a special note of gratitude to Fife Mayor Winston March.

“We know many of our youth would be unable to achieve such honors and do such wonderful things with the support of family, friends, school staff and other community members,” said Dickson.

Yambe has been with the Youth Commission from the beginning, spearheading it several years ago when he brought to idea to Fife City Council as a way to help open doors to people who aren’t always included in government, such as youth.

“I am so very proud of this Youth Commission,” he sai. “This whole (youth recognition) was really all them and they have a lot to be proud of.”

Yambe noted that last year the Commission received just three nominations for their first youth recognition efforts and this year the Commission received more than five times that number.

“They’re still a young group and trying to establish themselves and I think this group is a very thoughtful, energetic and persistent group. They’ve been really working on hard on this and it’s nice to see it pay off,” Yambe said. “Now that they see what the potential impacts on the community are, it will be easier for them to set goals and decide what to do in the future.”

Reuter said the evening went just as well as everyone hoped it would.

“The youth commission is really starting to come into their own. It’s been a functioning group for almost two years so they’re starting to get a feel for what this is all about and what they want to see in how the Youth Commission functions. I was pleased to see this come off as well as it did because it helped them to get one under their belt, so to speak. Perhaps it gives them confidence and legitimizes their role in the community to promote youth issues.”

He was particularly pleased with Bean’s keynote address.

“His message was very well received and spot-on given the nature of the event, to recognize kids who may not get that since it’s not academics and athletics,” Reuter said. “The kids that were recognized are truly doing outstanding things in a variety of ways we may not have known about.”

As Yambe said, “It proves that at any age someone can make a change in their community. You don’t have to be an adult to do that. When people come together and decide that they want to do something and help people, this is a really great example that you don’t have to be in elected office or something like that – you can be a kid and make a difference.”