By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter
A new chapter of the Palisades Park Youth Council is underway—programming successful events for children and teens at Palisades Recreation Center.
“I want it to raise awareness for a new chapter that we have begun for park programming,” Keanu Nahmi Natan, chairman of the Palisades Park Youth Council Board, said to the Palisadian-Post, “one supported by the new Palisades Park Youth Council.”
Natan, a 16-year-old sophomore at Palisades Charter High School, grew up living on Swarthmore, previously attending Paul Revere Charter Middle School. He also serves as a Pali High Ambassador.
“Our goal is to build youth civic engagement and better the Palisades community,” Natan shared.
The Palisades Park Youth Council was formed after receiving more than 100 applicants from several different zip codes. The co-ed Palisades Park Youth Council boasts 41 members, with 12 sitting on a board.
“We were really looking for students yearning to be involved in the community and get civically engaged,” Natan said.
The council, which meets once a month, formed into several committees: youth sports, performance, arts and music, brain games, fundraising, and beautification.
“I didn’t tell them how to be organized,” Erich Haas, senior recreation director at Palisades Recreation Center, said, “but the kids did an excellent job organizing themselves into groups: It’s been very effective.”
“All of the events are thought up by the Youth Council, and I let them do it,” Haas shared.
For almost a decade, Haas dreamed of expanding the youth council because he knew teens and pre-teens would prefer to join activities organized by their peers. When Natan came to Haas, he knew Natan “had the energy to help the Youth Board.”
“The vision for our youth is coming into being,” Haas shared.
Recent events hosted by the council include a 3-on-3 basketball tournament with 10 teams participating, a chess tournament, which was planned to attract additional demographics at the park (those who may not want to do athletics, with people over the age of 18 welcome) and cookie decorating for kids.
“I have really enjoyed being part of the PPYC,” shared Zennon Ulyate-Crow, director of affairs. “I look forward to every event and meeting because they are always so much fun. Working with Keanu and Erich and the rest of the park administration has been an amazing experience.”
Charlie Collins serves as a youth advisor with Natan on the Pacific Palisades Park Advisory Board.
“It’s a really good group of kids and it’s the future of our park,” Haas said. “These kids will go off to college and have some experiences and, hopefully in the future, they will move back and have kids here, and those kids will use the park.”
Haas shared that the kids have ideas, energy and enthusiasm—that their sense of community is contagious.
“They are doing a really good job,” Haas concluded. “I’m extremely proud of these kids.”
Natan explained that students are welcome to volunteer, even if they are not on the council. Volunteer spots are always open.
To keep tabs on future events, follow the council’s Instagram at @ThePPYC.