After nearly 15 years, the Oberlin Youth Council has risen again and its members are eager to make a difference.
The 10-member group is focused on improving public transit and residents’ accessibility to Oberlin College’s Philips Gymnasium.
Council member and Oberlin High School senior Carlos Mendez said having public transit available to everyone again would allow people without cars to get out of town.
The city already offers Lorain County Transit service on Mondays and Thursdays. Stops include Elyria and Lorain on a rotation.
Emily Isaacson, an Oberlin College sophomore, said a public bus would help residents get to jobs, colleges, and even doctor appointments. “There’s specific jobs people cannot get to,” due to lack of transit, she said.
Mendez said Youth Council members attended a public transit forum in February at Lorain County Community College and it opened their eyes to opportunities.
OHS senior David Carter said the Youth Council wants Philips Gymnasium to be more accessible to residents and Oberlin Schools students.
“If you want to use Philips Gym and you’re not a student, it costs a certain amount per month,” Isaacson said.
Mendez would like to see the recreation center open to high school students who play a sport and thought the college should offer a discount price for residents similar to what the Lorain County Metro Parks Splash Zone does.
“I know a lot of people, especially at the high school, talk about how hard it is to access Philips Gym,” he said. “It is pretty hard to access it at times, especially if you are on the (college’s) no-trespass list.”
The Youth Council members said they are interested in learning more about the no-trespass list because the college owns so much property within the city limits.
This recent activity marks a kind of resurrection for the Oberlin Youth Council, which Oberlin College sophomore Megan Cox said has existed at least two or three other times.
“We are always looking for new members, especially younger members,” she said. “We’re opening to becoming a place where students can build leadership skills and become more involved in the community.”
“(Youth Council) gives you the opportunity and privilege to speak up about things that you see in the community that you don’t agree with or want to build upon, which you may not be able to voice somewhere else,” Carter said. “It gives people a voice in the community and allows them to say, ‘I helped change that.’”
The group meets at 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday at the Oberlin Public Library.
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