with Gov Deal Atlanta Mayor Reed and Fayetteville Mayor Johnson
Above, members of AVPRIDE’s Fayette Youth Leadership Program meet with Fayetteville Mayor Ed Johnson, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal while serving as Youth Delegates at the annual Mayor’s Day Conference.

Five students from AVPRIDE’s Fayette Youth Leadership Program (FYLP) met Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed recently and listened in on legislative policy sessions as part of the Georgia Municipal Association’s annual Mayor’s Day Conference. The students joined other youth delegates from across the state Jan. 22 and 23 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, where the youth witnessed legislative discussions of 600 elected officials and city managers from most of Georgia’s 540 cities.
The students were invited to participate by Fayetteville City Manager Ray Gibson and Mayor Ed Johnson. Gibson, who rounded up local business sponsorship for the students, felt the conference was an important step in the development of a formal youth council that could provide systematic youth input into future municipal planning discussions. While Gibson’s hope is that Fayetteville will pilot this youth council working with AVPRIDE FYLP students, he recognized that this model could provide more youth voice and engagement across Fayette County.
“Having a Fayetteville Youth Council has been a goal of mine for a while,” Gibson said. “It fits with the city government’s vision to be more connected to the community, and our mayor and city council support this initiative.”
Attending from AVPRIDE were Brooke Powell, a senior at Sandy Creek High School; Chase Johnson, a sophomore at Whitewater High School; Dunnchadn Strnad, a senior at Starr’s Mill High School; Nick Greiff, a junior at McIntosh High School; and Oscar Zayas, a junior at McIntosh High School.
These AVPRIDE students had many takeaways from the experience.
Oscar Zayas noted, “I was surprised by how much was going on in regards to the state of Georgia’s economy and government, such as our water wars with Florida and Alabama, and the Drug Market Interventions happening in the English Avenue neighborhood of Atlanta.”
Chase Johnson added, “I learned that when dealing in matters that have a visible and direct impact on the citizens, a governing authority needs to make sure that they are very transparent with the destination of the money, whether that be repaving streets, updating stoplights, making new traffic signals, or widening roads.”
The students were also inspired to bring some engagement ideas back to Fayette County. Brooke Powell thought that a youth-oriented “Day with a Cop” opportunity would be a beneficial way to bridge the gap between police and the community. Oscar Zayas echoed Gibson’s thoughts on a youth council,
“We could have a county-wide youth council, as a kind of replica of an actual city council,” Zayas said. “Teens would be elected as mayor, city manager, and council members.”
AVPRIDE is a nonprofit organization focused on youth leadership development opportunities for the youth of Fayette County.  Its “FYLP” program – Fayette Youth Leaders PRIDE” – works with 50 high school students each year to promote youth voice and civic engagement, with monthly skill-building workshops and community-driven engagement opportunities. For more information, visit www.avpride.org.