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Palisade Paw Post

Palisade Paw Post

Youth Represents the Western Slope

West Slope Youth Voice posing with Lieutenant Governor Primavera. Photo provided by WSYV.

Living in the Western Slope can be difficult for youth considering the lack of representation and easily accessible resources. However, D51 students made up of West Slope Youth Voice (WSYV) are paving paths for kids to thrive in such an environment like the Grand Valley. A big way of creating these changes happened at WSYV’s annual lobby trip to the Denver capitol. 

Despite student’s inability to fully participate in politics and voting, they are still encouraged to voice their opinions, especially on issues that directly affect them. WSYV is a non-partisan organization led by young individuals. Ultimately, their mission is to engage young people in our democracy and advocate for student issues with elected leaders to amplify youth voices. 

On January 29th, WSYV members visited the capitol in Denver to sit in on committees, experience the process of passing bills, and connect with legislators. Some went to the House while the rest went to the Senate. Throughout the day, sporadic meetings with representatives and senators would take place in committee rooms, hallways, offices, and even the capitol cafeteria. 

Junior Mila Stepan is one of two head interns of WSYV. A big priority for her was advocating for school based health centers. Accessible care within your school can be so beneficial for a student’s physical and mental well being. WSYV members such as Seniors Charlotte Allen, Ian Allen, and Mia De Villegas Decker presented these ideas to chairpeople including the Western Slope’s very own Senator Perry Will and Senator Janice Rich. 

Stepan reflects, “All the legislators are very receptive to youth perspectives. They are so much more friendlier than you expect. They were very appreciative of our participation.”

With several impressive testimonies made by Grand Junction’s youth, Senate Bill 24-034, earned an affirmative five out of seven votes. Seeing the difference you can make truly is a special opportunity that all young people should have. All voices matter and deserve to be heard. All opinions deserve to be accounted for. This is what West Slope Youth Voice fights for.

“On this capitol trip, it’s more about advocating. We aren’t just here to talk about our personal priorities but obviously the wider pool that we come from. Not everyone can go to the capitol, so we need to represent them,” concludes Stepan.

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Gaby Suazo
Gaby Suazo, Staff Member
Hi, I’m Gaby Suazo and I am a sophomore. This is my first year writing for Paw Post and I am so excited to share what I am passionate about! Other than writing, I enjoy dancing, thrifting, hiking, listening to music (Tame Impala, boygenius, SZA, Adrianne Lenker, Tyler, the Creator) and eating pesto pizza.
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