City of Scotts Valley
City of Scotts Valley

Scotts Valley put youth at the heart of its agenda March 20, as the City Council voted unanimously to adopt a Youth Bill of Rights that was championed by Councilmember Alan Timms, the City’s newest elected official.

In fact, the local leaders went further than the proposed text, which has been circulating among neighboring municipalities, agreeing not just to promote safety for younger residents, but also pledging to ensure they feel welcome in neighborhoods and parks, have safe pathways to school, as well as access to greenspaces and hiking trails.

“This represents a commitment from us,” Timms said. “It is incumbent on all of us that the wellbeing of the future generation is looked after.”

According to staff, the “Scotts Valley Children’s Bill of Rights” will ensure leaders keep the needs of young people at the forefront of government policy decisions.

“Children and youth are vulnerable members of our community and must be prioritized and protected,” staff wrote in a report. “The Bill of Rights provides the foundation that helps our community make children and youth a top priority and is intended to meet the specific needs of the children in the Scotts Valley community.”

The framework will guide decisions about activities and infrastructure management, such as the Multicultural Fair, Junior Police Academy, and at the accessible “Tot Lot” playground at Skypark.

It will also underscore partnerships with the Youth Action Network, the Boys and Girls Club, O’Neill Sea Odyssey, little league, soccer and softball clubs, Boy and Girl Scouts, and the Scotts Valley Unified School District.

Council members were quite moved by the two youth who spoke during public comment. Prathik Kurella, an 11th grader at Scotts Valley High School, spoke virtually.

“The Youth Bill of Rights ensures that every youth has the right to a healthy mind, body and spirit,” he said. “This encompasses not only physical health, but also mental wellbeing, which is very important for the youth to be able to reach their full potential in all aspects of life.”

Kurella, who has been part of the Youth Action Network (YAN) for nearly three years, said the Bill of Rights will help young people to achieve success.

“I also find the Youth Bill of Rights’ emphasis on ‘youth voice’ and participation to be very important to society,” he said. “Young people should have the opportunity to voice their opinions, develop leadership skills, and engage in meaningful communities, which the Youth Bill of Rights ensures.”

Brent Kong, another SVHS senior who’s been on the YAN for about three years, said the Youth Bill of Rights is a great way to make sure youth are valued.

“The Youth Action Network looks forward to working with the City,” he said. “Thank you for giving us this opportunity.”

Sarah Emmert, the director of community impact with United Way of Santa Cruz County, said it’s been a pleasure supporting the work of the Youth Action Network, and gave kudos to both Councilmembers Donna Lind and Timms.

“We sincerely appreciate the collaboration and support we’ve received from both of you,” she said. “Your commitment to prioritizing the voice and needs of young people has been instrumental in our efforts to create positive change.”

Youth Bill of Rights

  • The right to a safe and healthy environment in homes, schools, neighborhoods and the community.
  • The right to supportive, healthy, nurturing relationships with all adults in their lives.
  • The right to receive basic essentials, including nutritious food, housing, clothing, water, transportation and clean air.
  • The right to receive health services, including medical, dental, vision and mental healthcare.
  • The right to be free of mistreatment, abuse and neglect.
  • The right to educational services and any specialized supports that will accommodate their unique, individual needs.
  • The right to training in life skills to prepare them to thrive in a modern world.
  • The right to be heard respectfully regarding all matters that may affect them so they feel valued.
  • The right to dream big, explore, be challenged, be curious, be creative and live a life full of hope and inspiration.
Previous articleFinance | Death and Taxes in the Santa Cruz Mountains
Next articleBen Lomond dog grooming salon opens next month
Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here