Lehigh Valley

Bethlehem's Youth Council takes off

Bethlehem's Youth Council takes off

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - It's Tuesday morning at Freedom High School in Bethlehem. Class is in session. But students are the ones running this show. It's a meeting of the Bethlehem Area Youth Council.

The group got its start in October of 2011.

What is it?

"Young men and women from both Freedom High School and Liberty High School meeting together to develop their own ideas," explained Al Philpotts, a co-founder of Bethlehem Community Collaborative, which helped to get the youth council off the ground.

The council was a first for Bethlehem--just the kind of outlet that students like Gracie Hargrove had been waiting for.

"I always wanted to help our community, I just didn't know how," said Hargrove, a senior at Liberty High School.

Now students are busy tackling issues inside and outside school walls, and sometimes even the walls themselves! During Tuesday's meeting, one group debated the merits of a new mural at Liberty, while another wove together details about a clothing drive, and a third pondered a how-to guide for future peers.

"I'm working on a resource book to give out to the freshmen in the high schools," explained Liberty High School junior Abby Frankenfield.

It all comes together like a well-oiled machine. That's not to say there haven't been some bumps in the road.

"There's always that rivalry between Freedom and Liberty," said Hargrove.

And initially, some students were a little too ambitious. They wanted to tackle the big, global issues, like world hunger, until organizers helped them to see the benefit in making a difference outside their own doorsteps.

Now, it seems, the council has found its groove, and its young members-- and their ideas--- will continue to blossom in Bethlehem.

"It's nice to see that a seed you have planted has borne fruit," said Philpotts.

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Allentown, PA 18102





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