Three Farragut students joined 14 other Knox County Schools students chosen to represent their community on the City of Knoxville Mayor’s Youth Council, which held its first meeting Wednesday, June 2.
Farragut High School rising senior Nolan Du and rising junior Sam Kittrell, along with Farragut Middle School rising eighth-grader Camilla Mata are among the 17 youths providing a young voice about public policy to city and county officials while they build connections with other youths around them.
“I was extremely grateful for the opportunity,” said Sam Kittrell, son of Matt and Ellie Kittrell. “I wasn’t really expecting (to be chosen) — there are a lot of people who have joined (the Council) — but I’m really grateful to be able to connect with people all across (the county), and especially with the Mayor (Indya Kincannon). It’s really special.”
Sam learned about the Council from his mother, who had seen a flyer about the Council meeting and applied, he said, because he wanted to be a voice for Farragut.
“Farragut is kind of like a bubble — it’s kind of closed off from the rest of Knoxville,” he said. “I felt like this would be a really good way to find different perspectives and to become more familiar with other parts of the city.”
“I think, with everything that’s going on in the country, Knoxville and Knox County, I think it’s really important that we provide a forum for youth to talk with one another and to share their insights and their opinions on what community leaders and political leaders can be doing and should be doing to make things better,” Ellie Kittrell said. “So I was really proud of Sam’s expressing interest in joining and, of course him being selected to be part of the Mayor’s Council.”
“I was very happy and excited to be chosen for the Youth Council,” said Du, the son of Li Wang and Maohua Du. “I love helping the community, and I think providing my input to the Mayor’s Youth Council is a great way to do so.”
About being chosen, “I would say I am a very reasonable person and that will be useful to the Council. I always think things through,” Du said. “I would love for us to do something concrete and real, like creating a new policy or new initiative.”
“It’s absolutely exciting,” Li Wang said. “He’s very passionate about community service. He started his own non-profit organization, Student Betterment, this year, an initiative to help people get vaccinated (against COVID).
“The Mayor’s Youth Council will provide a broader platform for him to help the community in a more profound way.”
Camilla could not be reached for comment at press deadline.
In addition to Farragut’s Middle and FHS, the Council includes students from Austin-East Magnet High School, Bearden Middle School, Holston Middle School, Richard Yoakley School, Vine Middle Magnet School and West High School.
City officials said forming the Council was a roughly two-year process.
“I’m so excited about this Youth Council,” said Kathy Mack, community engagement manager with City of Knoxville Office of Community Empowerment. “It’s the first ever Youth Council to be formed by the city and we’re excited to have youth involved and engaged in creating a platform for their voices to be heard.”
However, she noted, forming
“The idea came into place that youth voices needed to be represented when it came to decision making and policy making in the city,” Mack said.