Redmond students map their future at RYPAC Youth Summit

Dillon Myers (right)

“Reaching Beyond Your Limits” was the theme of the Redmond Youth Partnership Advisory Committee (RYPAC) Summit 2010, held Tuesday at the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center.

Two hundred junior high and high school students convened to share thoughts about after-school programs and resources in the City of Redmond and the Lake Washington School District (LWSD). Facilities such as the Old Fire House Teen Center and Redmond Skate Park were created because of such input from local youth.

“I feel more optimistic about your generation than any generation that has come before you,” said LWSD superintendent Dr. Chip Kimball in his welcoming remarks. He also acknowledged tremendous challenges in the modern world and the need to be active do-ers.

“Today you can begin mapping your future here in Redmond and in the world,” Kimball said.

Redmond Mayor John Marchione asked summit attendees to “take one word home — responsibility.”

Marchione noted that he often gets e-mails asking, “Why doesn’t the city do this or that?” He explained to the students, “The city is YOU. It’s not someone else’s responsibility,” to come up with good ideas and move them forward.

Keynote speaker Houston Kraft, founder of RAKE (Random Acts of Kindness, Etc.) based his motivational address on the word “drive.”

Using terms about auto travel, he advised the teens that “packing for the trip” includes thinking creatively. “Choosing your passengers” means surrounding yourself with positive people and holding each other to high standards of accountability.

Kraft also alluded to “checking your mirrors,” or looking beyond the obvious to seize opportunities.

“Intentions minus actions equal squat,” Kraft declared. “If you talk about things and walk away with ideas, the farthest journey is from the head to the heart to the hands.”

Kraft showed summit attendees a short video called “Perspectacles.”

The video showed a student walking through the halls of his school with a sullen gaze. Passing his peers, he muttered to himself about “nerds,” “losers,” “gossip girls” and so on.

After donning a special pair of eyeglasses — “perspectacles” — he took another trip through the same halls. This time, he saw what he had missed before — students who were lonely, insecure, scarred by racism or alcoholic parents.

Kraft encouraged the students to “turn it around … Give someone a compliment, say hello to someone new. … People will never remember what you do. People will never remember what you say. But people will always remember how you made them feel.”

And the impact of small gestures is immeasurable, he said.

Following the speeches, breakout sessions at the RYPAC Summit allowed students to meet with panelists on topics such as “Life After High School,” “Teens and the Law,” “Technology and Privacy” and more.

In a breakout session called “After the Bell Rings,” teens told adults from Redmond Parks and Recreation about their likes and dislikes and what could be improved.

Rising costs of athletic fees are a deterrent to playing sports, said many of the teens. For junior high students, lack of after-school transportation can be a problem. Competitive sports programs exclude or discourage those who aren’t gifted athletes, others said.

Students asked for more co-ed sports programs with emphasis on fun instead of competition, better transportation options and more ways to raise awareness of how to access such resources.

Information gathered at the RYPAC Summit will be used toward seeking support for the programs local teens need and want.

For more information about RYPAC, call (425) 556-2358, e-mail rypac@redmond.gov or

visit http://www.redmond.gov/insidecityhall/boards/rypac.asp

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