The COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to a lot of things in the world, and this included a number of programs for Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community youth, such as the Young River People’s Council. The program made an effort to keep youth involved and busy through online activities during that trying time, but due to a shortage of staff the YRPC eventually was put on hold.
Today there is a new YRPC supervisor, Janyse Salinas, former Community Recreational Services (CRS) coordinator in the social division, who is re-starting the YRPC and welcoming youth ages 13 to 21 to join. Salinas worked for the SRPMIC for four years, starting as a temporary worker with CRS before becoming a permanent employee. She stepped away from her position at CRS at the end of 2021 and now has made her way back to working with the Community youth.
The SRPMIC Youth Council was originally under Youth Services; in the 2010s it was moved under the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs, where they focused more on the political and leadership aspects of the program. With it moving back under Youth Services, the YRPC continues to focus on the professional development aspect but would also like to include more service projects and activities that focus on cultural identity.
“We want to be more visible in the Community. We want to have the youth do more service projects and learn more about the culture of the O’odham and Piipaash,” said Salinas. “There will still be opportunities for professional development as well, but at the forefront we wanted to have more community and volunteer service projects. We want to get them involved [in] their Community, because some of the Community youth live in surrounding cities.”
The YRPC program gives Community youth the opportunity for leadership development through job shadowing and opportunities for new experiences. They will be able to travel to youth and tribal leadership conferences.
“We will be doing some traveling, but the youth will have to meet certain requirements and [complete the] service and volunteer projects to be able to have that privilege to travel,” said Salinas.
There are currently no members of the SRPMIC Youth Council. The terms of past leadership ended during the pandemic. So this is an opportunity for new youth to join the council and run for president and vice-president. Salinas hopes some of the past members also will return and bring some of their experience with them.
“I want [Youth Council] to be an environment where they all feel safe, they can tell us their goals and what they want to do [in the future]. [For some youth] it might not be college, and if it’s something else we will help them become a leader in whatever role they want to take on,” said Salinas. “They are our next generation and our new leaders in the future. A lot of focus [previously] was on college, and for me, I think that scared people sometimes. But I think that we’re learning that our kids are leaders, school or not, and [we want to] help them become those leaders in their own little circles within their friends or in their work environment, if that’s what they decide to do after high school. It’s just encouraging them and helping them grow and just become good humans. I think that’s what it’s all about.”
An information and recruitment event was held on August 17, which was the day that youth could start submitting their applications to join the YRPC. The youth were provided with information packets and they enjoyed food, games and door prizes.
Those interested can visit www.srpmic-nsn.gov/government/youth/yrpc/ to learn more about the program. There you can also print out the application, which includes an enrollment form, intake form, and the YRPC Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics. Turn in completed applications to the Youth Services Department.
For more information, contact Janyse Salinas at (480) 362-3197 or Jayse.Salinas@srpmic-nsn.gov. You can also follow the YRPC social media pages at www.facebook.com/Young-River-Peoples-Council-YRPC-544046952437068 or www.instagram.com/youngriverpeoplescouncil.