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Manteca commission aims for youth, teen activities

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POSTED March 1, 2013 1:10 a.m.

They’re the unsung heroes of Manteca’s youth.

The ones behind the scenes. The ones with the pulse on what is really going on.

And while they might not always get the credit, the Manteca Youth Advisory Commission – a group of 12 young men and women selected by the Manteca City Council as community advocates for teens – is responsible for a number of city events geared at giving youth safe events they can enjoy such as the middle school dances at Golden West School.

On Saturday the group will host its second Battle of the Bands, with the help of GK Music, at the Manteca Senior Center – an event that advisor Brandy Clark said was solely conceived by the commission last year as an event to bring a day of music to the youth of the community.

“They came up with it, have been working on it, publicizing and selling tickets for it,” Clark said. “It’s truly an event that they came up with on their own.”

Seeing the group blossom into the leaders they eventually become, Clark said, is one of the perks of her job – one that she’s held for nearly a decade.

She has seen students go through ethics training to get a better understanding how municipal government truly works, and watched teenagers learn the ins-and-outs of the Brown Act – California’s open meeting law that has been the focal point of lawsuits and debate for decades.

Through that period, Clark said, they grow into well-rounded young men and women that have a true grasp of their community and what goes on in it.

“They really come in with no knowledge of the city or the programs or how things run,” she said. “They learn how to become involved in their community. A lot of these kids have attended one of these events before with their parents but didn’t know much about it other than that.

“Now they’re putting them together. They’re putting them on. They’re not just serving on a committee.”

Take, for example, Alex Orr.

The Sierra High School senior put in his application to serve with the group as a freshman and has been a regular staple ever since – now serving as the commission’s chairman.

A self-described “shy person,” Orr said that his involvement has helped him learn how to take initiative and come out of his shell and has given him a much deeper understanding of his community and what goes on in it.

“It’s really taught me how to get active in my community and how to exercise leadership,” he said. “It can be difficult for me because I’m a shy person and that makes things kind of challenging. But the more than I’ve done it the more I’ve gotten used to it and it’s given me a different perspective on Manteca and where I live.”

The 2nd annual Manteca Youth Advisory Commission Battle of the Bands, which will be held on Saturday, March 2, will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 in advance and $8 at the door. For more information call (209) 456-8623.

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