In October, we celebrated the winners of the 2018 American Civic Collaboration Awards - or "the Civvys" - in a ceremony at the National Conference on Citizenship in Washington, D.C. While all of our nominees and finalists do inspiring work to better their communities and strengthen the fabric of the nation, this year's winners represent exemplar cases of high-impact, truly collaborative initiatives.
We asked our winners to answer a few questions about the role of civic collaboration in what they do. This week, meet our winner of a special "Committee's Choice" category, the Montevallo Junior City Council.
Junior Mayor Abigail Heuton accepts the Civvys award on behalf of the Montevallo Junior City Council.
What is the Montevallo Junior City Council? In 2012, eight middle-schoolers in a small, rural Alabama community approached their mayor to start the first-ever Junior City Council in their town. Through the work of these young people, they established themselves as a political body, and their president sits on the dais at all City Council Meetings to represent the youth voice. The JCC hosts deliberative forums, developed a merchant discount card for teens and convened a mayoral debate, among other activities.
Hear what they had to say - right from the middle-school council themselves.
What are your hopes for the upcoming year?
Our hopes for the future include finding more opportunities to volunteer, help more teenagers in Montevallo to become civically active in the community, and hopefully along the way gain new members and help create junior city councils in other cities! We are also in the process of planning a pride parade, Moonlight Movies, and a Color Run for next year. Our junior city council is excited and hopeful for these events to happen.
Why is collaboration important in today's politics and daily life?
Collaboration between people helps in creating relationships and is a reflection on the humanity of politics. Regardless of your background, ethnicity, etc. we are still people and we should be able to work together in harmony.
What do you wish people who have lost hope knew?
While it may seem hopeless now everything happens for a reason and to get to the good times you have to go through the hard ones first. You must understand the greater picture in life and live your life to the fullest. If people have lost hope I would say look to the youth in the community and the young children who are still innocent and have their whole life ahead of them. That generation of kids could change the world for the better we just have to believe in their ability to set things right and work together to fix the problems in politics and our environment.
What does winning a Civvys award mean to you?
It shows our hard work has impacted peoples lives in a positive way. Additionally, it gives us another bar and raises our expectation. Now that we know we are making a difference we will continue to work hard and do our best to represent the youth of Montevallo. We are very thankful to have won the Civvy award and our junior city council is still in shock from receiving the award in Washington, D.C.