A year into its existence, the Burke County State of Youth is looking to make the future of the county brighter.
Malik Harris, president of the group and a freshman at Freedom High School, started the group Nov. 30, 2020.
“I realized that there needed to be more opportunities for youth around our county to make a change,” Harris said. “I realized that youth needed more of a voice and more of a leeway to get into things like public service and public administration.”
It was his middle school principal who told him about the State of Youth organization and suggested he consider starting a local chapter.
“When she told me about it, I was happy to sign up,” Harris said.
So far, they’ve hosted meetings with public officials to discuss topics like racial equality and climate justice, held clothing drives, planted trees and distributed masks and hand sanitizer to help people protect themselves against COVID-19. They’ve been nominated for awards, Harris said, and they’ve hosted vaccine clinics.
The group has partnered with Burke United Christian Ministries for a canned food drive that will end Tuesday.
Canned goods can be dropped off at Table Rock Middle School or Oak Hill and W.A. Young elementary schools. Donors can also bring food to BUCM and say that the food should go to the Burke County State of Youth’s food drive.
The year has been full of ups and downs while the group has gotten its feet under it, but Harris said students all across Burke County have gotten involved in the group.
“We’ve just seen a lot of change, a lot of great change, promoted all by youth, and that’s what I think the most important was, the most important thing we’ve seen in the last year, the growth of youth getting involved, and the growth of youth wanting to get involved,” Harris said.
He said they’re gearing up for another clothing drive, and the group would like to start honoring youth with awards for their involvement.
“We try to get the community involved with things, for the community to give us ideas on what we can do so we know what can best affect our community,” Harris said.
Students can reach out to their school counselor to find out how to join. The group also is open to those in their early 20s. Search @stateofyouth_bukecountync on Instagram to find out more information.