Chance Christensen, Erica Iversen, Betsy Kincanon and Sarah Robbins, all of Grand Island, were among the 53 high school students from across Nebraska who attended Project Extra Mile’s Youth Legislative Day March 23 at the State Capitol in Lincoln. The youth watched legislative floor debate and met with senators, asking legislators to understand their role in preventing underage drinking while partnering with the students on policy-level change.
The annual event is designed to give young people an opportunity to observe the state’s policy-making process and discuss youth alcohol issues with their senator and other state leaders. The youth were encouraged to take the day’s experience and become active participants in changing their community at a local level.
“We were excited to share our concerns on underage drinking with our senator,” said Erica Iversen, Grand Island Senior High student. “We felt very prepared and the senators we spoke with were very supportive. It felt good to hear that they thought the bills were a ‘must’ for the kids’ sake.”
In addition to the individual senator meetings, students made presentations during a luncheon held to inform the senators of current alcohol-related issues facing youth in Nebraska and what role they play to help solve this complex problem.
“Working on policy initiatives is one way that Project Extra Mile focuses community efforts to change the landscape of youth access to alcohol,” said Diane Riibe, executive director for Project Extra Mile. “The goal of our Youth Leadership Day is to give students the opportunity to observe and actively become a part of the policy-making process as an engaged citizen. Our hope is that their dedication to this issue doesn’t end here, but carries on into the months and years ahead.”
On Thursday, April 16, students will share their experiences at Project Extra Mile’s Hall County Coalition meeting at 10:00 a.m. at the Platte Valley State Bank in Grand Island.