To describe how Centennial’s government functions, teen resident Aimee Resnick points to a popular TV sitcom.
“Often, I feel like we expect local government to be kind of like ‘Parks and Rec,’ where it’s kind of chaotic and nothing happens,” Resnick, 16, said.
But in reality, the Centennial City Council and the city’s Youth and Senior commissions make many important decisions, Resnick said.
Resnick serves as chair of the city’s Youth Commission, a teen group formed by the city council to provide a voice for young people in Centennial policy-making.
“My mom saw an ad on Nextdoor and urged me to apply,” said Resnick, who has sat on the commission since eighth grade. “I wasn’t expecting local government to be so exciting and vibrant, and I ended up being really surprised at how much I loved being on Youth Commission.”
To Resnick, Centennial is defined by the ideals of creating acceptance in the community and of community wellness.
“Our city is obviously focused on getting outdoors and sustainability,” added Resnick, who lives in Centennial’s west part.
During her tenure on the commission, the main way Resnick has seen Centennial change is in the way people in the area talk about mental health.
“When I first joined the Youth Commission, there were a couple suicides (of local students),” and the way that was reacted to is less supportive than people’s attitudes now, Resnick said.
The Youth Commission has partnered with Centennial Medical Plaza (now Centennial Hospital) on mental health issues, according to Resnick. When the commission started that practice, a lot of the focus was on post-incident response. Now, it’s more about removing risk factors that would make someone feel suicidal, said Resnick, who attends Cherry Creek High School.
The commission works with community institutions to increase mental-health awareness, including in schools and faith-based organizations, Resnick said. She also serves on the Youth-Specific Initiatives Work Group on the Colorado Suicide Prevention Commission — she was appointed in early 2020.
In Centennial, the city council is “wonderful” to work with and considers policy proposals from the Youth Commission, Resnick said.
“We’re very lucky to have the city council that we do supporting us,” Resnick said. She added: “Recently, the Youth Commission has been involved in a discussion about banning flavored vape products in Centennial and changing the distance a store that sells vape products must be from a school.”
Also a priority for the teens: “We’d like to make a city where community organizations are not working on their own but rather working together to further the well-being of our citizens,” Resnick said.