Photo by Kathy Jefcoats
Members of Forest Park Teen Council (l-r) Latosha Shields, Mahlon Randolph, Dorielle Moorer, Donna Nguyen, Pedro Olivio and Esteban Tadeo listen to Sparkle Adams explain the future of the organization.
By Kathy Jefcoats
FOREST PARK — The future of Teen Council may be in doubt but Mayor Pro Tem Linda Lord told the group Tuesday that the topic has not been officially discussed.
Former Ward 1 Representative and mayoral candidate Sparkle Adams formed the volunteer and community service organization about five years ago. The validity of the group was questioned during a March 13 candidate forum, which led to a discussion about the future of Teen Council.
Lord attended Tuesday's meeting but said she was confused about the debate.
"This is the first time I've heard a public discussion of it," she said. "I've heard that someone questioned whether it's legal or not and someone say it was better to do it outside the scope of the city but I don't know of any comprehensive discussion on it."
Adams is in an April 16 runoff with attorney David Lockhart, who didn't participate in the forum. Another candidate brought the question of Teen Council into the forum so Adams put it on Tuesday's agenda. Teen Council members were obviously upset by the prospect of the group dissolving. Anastasia Star has been a member of Teen Council for three years.
"We've been doing this for five years now," she said. "We've never had complaints before. I think we've brought positive aspects to the city and now people want to bombard us with legalities? I've never seen them at a Teen Council meeting. They've never come to say anything to us."
Teen Council is funded by the Clayton County Board of Health but the city provides meeting space at City Hall. The contract with the health board is up for renewal in June.
Members of Teen Council are heavily involved in volunteer projects such as raking leaves for senior citizens and disabled residents, maintaining a community gardening and promoting recycling.
Some of the members attended a Youth Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., in early March. Four of the top 15 students in the Forest Park High School graduating class of 2013 are members of Teen Council. Ky'Wan Parker, 16, has been involved for several years.
"The whole purpose is to influence attitudes toward teens," said Parker. "For this to be controversial — we're the teens who want to promote positive behavior."
Adult volunteer Carl Evans also attended the meeting and said he supported Teen Council continuing, whether Adams was involved or not.
"It should be a no-brainer," he said. "Teen Council has been nothing but a positive influence since it was founded. We've got the best and the brightest here and we need to do everything possible to improve their lives. There's nothing I know of that's any better for the kids. The city should be bending over backward to see this continues. This needs to be taken care of."
Adams cast doubt on her continued involvement should she lose the runoff.
"Regardless of who is mayor, will Sparkle Adams be our sponsor?" said Parker.
Lord told him that is Adams' decision to make.
"I doubt it," said Adams.
However, she added that it shouldn't matter who sponsors the group.
"This is our future, we older people I think tend to forget that," she said. "My position is the city should step up to the plate. We haven't stepped up and been mentors. If this were about a ball team, parents would be lined up in here."
The meeting ended without a definite decision on the future of Teen Council but also with Lord emphasizing that Council has not discussed it.
"There has been no meeting about this in the city and certainly wouldn't be until June," said Lord. "Nothing we did would take away from Teen Council. you can still do it without the city."