Getting young people involved with their community’s Main Street program not only benefits the program with some of the heavy lifting, but also provides an opportunity for community engagement and encourages youth to enjoy history in their own backyards. Main Street programs often create partnerships with local schools, and offer community service opportunities and education to students using heritage resources. These are some of the ways Main Street communities are involving youth.
Harlingen—Downtown Mosaic Planter Art Project
Submitted by Ed Meza, Harlingen Main Street Manager
Harlingen artist Roberta Lee will oversee the Mosaic Planter Art Project created by local junior high and high school students. Twelve concrete cylinder planters will be turned into works of art by the students and will be used to beautify downtown Harlingen.
The students will design each planter and install the pieces using different mosaic materials such as glass and glazed ceramic.
Each planter will be designed with a theme that represents Harlingen and its uniqueness. Themes include flora and fauna, the Arroyo Colorado waterway and natural recreation area, recycling, the cotton industry, the citrus industry, and more. The planters are sponsored by businesses and residents and will be distributed in the downtown area.
Carthage—Youth Advisory Council
Submitted by Cindy Deloney, Carthage Main Street Manager
The Carthage Main Street Youth Advisory Council (YAC) was formed in April 2016 with 12 members, and in 2017 it is already up to the max of 20 members. Each year this council is tasked with planning an event and a project, as well as volunteering for both Carthage Main Street and Panola County Chamber of Commerce events, with their officers also being Junior Chamber Ambassadors. Each member also has to volunteer two hours per semester working in the Carthage Main Street office.
This outstanding group of young people starts their year with a full day of training on Main Street, team-building exercises, and a planning session for their year. Their first event, the Homecoming Street Dance, was a huge success that they are building on for this year.
They have also helped with the renovations at the Esquire Theater downtown and have volunteered at the concession stand for both the country music shows and movies held in this historic theater. Their first big project is about to become a reality: a life-sized chess board will be added to Anderson Park in our downtown square thanks to their hard work.
These programs are only a couple of great examples of getting youth involved with their Main Street programs. To learn more about the statewide downtown revitalization program, see our Texas Main Street webpages.
This post is a modified version of the feature article in Main Street Matters, a monthly newsletter published by our Texas Main Street Program. It is part of a series of case studies that highlight successful initiatives and events of Texas Main Street cities.