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From classroom to city hall: Red Wing approves creation of youth council

Youth in Government Gov. Cayanne Korder addresses youth leaders. Youth in Government Model Assembly run Jan. 10-13, 2019. A deep interest in government has led her to help create a new Red Wing Youth Council. Photo courtesy of Red Wing YMCA

"I really like serving our town, really anyway I can, because this town has given me so many opportunities," said high school senior Cayanne Korder.

Korder and sophomore Alainn Hanson have been working with Mayor Sean Dowse and Red Wing's administrative business director, Marshall Hallock, for about a year to create a youth council. On Monday, March 11, the City Council unanimously voted for the creation of a youth council.

The process began when Korder and Hanson traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the youth portion of the National League of Cities.

"Just sitting in that room with so many students who were able to participate in their local governments and then share it with others was just a very excellent type of environment to be in," Korder told the Red Wing City Council Monday night.

Alainn Hanson

Upon their return, Korder and Hanson visited other youth councils, gathered and read data about youth governments and the city's interest, and wrote the proposed local youth council's bylaws in Mandy's Coffee and Cafe. According to Korder, Red Wing seemed ready for a youth council.

"We started to see that there was this interest for ... involving our youth in not only government aspects but starting to get more participation in general into the community."

The support for youth learning about and working in government is not new in Red Wing. High school students have participated in the YMCA's Youth in Government for years. Youth in Government is a four-day event where students in grades 8-12 from around the state participate in a mock assembly. The YMCA website states that students "can serve as legislators, judges, attorneys, lobbyists, and cabinet members, media representatives, or introductory Leadership Corps."

In 2018, Korder was elected governor for the 2019 event and was joined at the assembly in January by about 100 other Red Wing students.

Unlike Youth in Government, Red Wing Youth Council will meet on a regular basis and will have the ability to work on real issues. The council will be given $5,000 for its first year.

Not all of the details for the Youth Council are in place at the moment.

"We really want to build the plane as we're flying it," said Korder. The current goal is that the first official meeting of the Youth Council will be in October but there will be workshops and other meetings to finalize details before the council is called to order.

Despite her work on creating the Youth Council in Red Wing, Korder will not be in town, or even the state, to see it come to fruition. The Red Wing senior plans to attend Emory University in Atlanta where she hopes to study anthropology and human biology. The Youth Council is important to Korder, however, and she wanted to make sure that it was guided through its formative years by someone who would be at the school while Korder was in college. So, Korder worked with Hanson to create the council.

"Really, I've just beet her mentor. She's done a lot of setting-up meetings ... what I really wanted to do was make sure there was a student who was here for the next couple of years to see this program grow. I'm just standing back and watching her, kind of like a proud mom."