PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Like everything now, the Pinellas County Youth Advisory Committee meets virtually instead of in person.

“Yeah, it was really crazy with all the Covid stuff, we really had to pivot on that opportunity," said Dillon Vann, Youth Advisory Committee.

What You Need To Know

  • Pinellas County Youth Advisory Committee didn't let COVID shut them down

  • Group of students learn about policy writing, government, and get to speak with the county commission on local youth issues

  • The group switched everything (projects, tours, meetings, etc.) to virtual when pandemic hit

  • More Pinellas County News

The group is made up of high achieving school students who apply to get into the competitive program. While in YAC the kids get to learn about policy writing, see first-hand how government works, and they even get to speak to the county commission on issues important to local youth.

“Covid, we at first saw it as a negative impact on us, but then we realized what great outcome we can have if we actually all work together and use our resources to the best capacity that we can," said Madelin Marcos, Youth Advisory Committee.

“So we kind of shifted into high gear and we put it to where we needed to be, which was meeting once a week. Which kept us cohesive, which kept us on a roll," said Vann.

The students switched everything to virtual. From tours to meetings, to even their big project, everything was done at a distance.

"We were able to come up with our virtual mental health fair, which was our big long term project, and one of the best projects that I have ever helped with doing," said Marcos.

“They did some amazing things, instead of just canceling it, and not following through, they really moved forward on an important agenda that was important to them, and they moved their meetings from once a week to once a month," said Kathleen Peters, Pinellas County Commissioner, District 6. “They were driven by the fact that they wanted to make a difference in their community. And wow, they just have done amazing things.”

The current YAC group plans to continue this way. With 16 members rolling over from last year, and 19 new ones, they have no intention of slowing down even during a pandemic. 

“It has just impacted me in feeling like I now have a purpose within this community and that I am sharing more about the youth and helping them," said Marcos.

“I see a lot of policy change coming from these kids, and you have to take it all seriously because they are serious. And their policy ideas are actually very good," said Peters.