The presentations made by local high schools at Thursday’s Student Solutions program illustrated a point that officials like Bowling Green City Manager Kevin DeFebbo have made when explaining the purpose behind the program — effective government policies can come from nearly anywhere or anyone.
Because people younger than 18, which includes most high school students, aren’t able to vote, it’s not a stretch for people that age to wonder whether elected officials, whether in city, state or federal government, are acting responsively to their concerns.
On the campaign trail, you’ll occasionally hear a would-be office holder say something to the effect of, “If you don’t like my ideas for making (the city, sheriff’s office, nation, etc.) a better place, you’re more than welcome to vote for the other guy.”
That’s fine and good, but the 16-year old who wants more city-funded recreational opportunities or who wants to live in a better-policed neighborhood doesn’t have the ballot box at his/her disposal.
It’s one thing to have a city department head or commissioner go to high schools to talk about the daily responsibilities and financial obligations that must be met in their jobs, but it’s a different thing entirely to involve students in the problem-solving process, because it opens to them the possibility that their ideas can help make a difference in how their city functions, and that their elected representatives will listen closely and take their ideas serously.
The schools who participated in last night’s presentation (two teams from Bowling Green High School, one team each from Warren East, Warren Central and Greenwood high schools) worked for two months to put together a presentation to solve a specific problem facing the city, with the assistance of a faculty advisor and city government liaison.
I will present these problems to you and open up the floor for your suggestions:
1. If the baseball stadium is built and a team moves to Bowling Green, identify potential problems to it being successful and develop a plan to make it successful.
2. What is an effective awareness campaign to prevent underage drinking and experimentation with illegal drugs by youth in our area?
3. Obesity is a problem in Kentucky that could be due to poor diet or a lack of physical exercise. What are some solutions for high school-aged students? What would be some alternative activities to playing video games?
4. Is there sufficient interest to develop a mountain bike trail at one of our city parks?
5. The Bowling Green Fire Department relies on hydrants to supply water for fire suppression purposes. Many homeowners landscape around hydrants and obscure hydrant visibility, creating difficulty for firefighters locating a hydrant. How can the fire department best inform the public of the need to keep hydrants clear of vegetation and easily visible?