A group of Shawnee Mission Northwest students are helping to imagine the future of the City of Shawnee.
City staff members visited the high school to engage students in a Strategic Planning focus group and hear from students about what they envision for their community.
“Not only was it a chance for students to see government in action, it was the city officials saying ‘tell us what you want’ and listening to students,’ “ Christin LaMourie, government teacher said.
City officials asked students to share thoughts and answers to a series of questions including:
· What do you want to see improved upon in Shawnee?
· When it comes to the future of Shawnee, what is the single most important issue for youth?
The student answers will be compiled as the city develops the strategic plan. City officials are holding multiple focus groups that welcome youth, senior citizens, educators, and more as part of the strategic plan development. Students shared a variety of recommendations relating from everything to improving walkability and roads to hosting festivals and after-school opportunities for youth.
“It doesn’t matter if you are 17 or if you are 80, we will take these answers back and use it to come up with the vision for the city,” Caitlin Gard, assistant city manager said.
In addition to providing responses to the questions, students were also given the opportunity to ask questions and engage with city employees. These discussions helped Sophia Fairchild, senior, gain a better understanding of the work that goes on behind-the-scenes in her city, she noted.
“It was refreshing to be heard,” Fairchild said. “It was neat they were coming around to the tables and talking to us. They were validating our feedback and explaining why some situations are the way they are. I think it will make me more aware of what is going on in this city.”
The activity allowed students to engage in the civic process, which also fulfilled a requirement outlined for American Government and AP Government students. The activity also connected to district Strategic Plan Objective 3, giving students an opportunity to practice interpersonal skills to be an engaged, empathetic member of the local and global community.