This past June, Liberty High School junior Aaron Medina was appointed by the Youngstown Lifeguard Academy to serve as a representative on the Youngstown Parks and Recreation Department's Reclamation, Repurpose and Preserve Public Lands Steering Committee. He was appointed by Youngstown Lifeguard Academy Captain Luther C. Bell to serve as the 1st Vice Chair of the committee, signaling the academy's commitment to developing young leaders. In the absence of the committee's chairperson at the October meeting of the Reclamation, Repurpose and Preserve Public Lands Steering Committee, the 16-year-old was forced to put his leadership skills to the test as he presided over the entire meeting.
“This was his first time ever chairing an official meeting of this kind. Something so official and connected to real impactful outcomes if we are successful,” stated Kevin Cunningham, 2nd vice-chair of the committee. “This is historic as we needed to make critical recommendations which have implications for millions of dollars that could come to our city in the near future if we are successful. 1st Lieutenant Medina was thrusted into this position and as required he did an excellent job chairing the process. Even if it was his first time; I’m proud of his steel.”
As the 1st Vice Chair of the Youngstown Parks and Recreation Department's internal steering committee, Medina works with the park’s director Dawn Turnage and other committee members to come up with solutions on how the park’s department can protect Youngstown’s public lands and spur economic development. Members of the steering committee are tasked with bringing recommendations to Turnage on how to act in the interest of the public to ensure the preservation of public lands that make up Youngstown's parks. Currently, the Parks Department is working to update documents that will make the city eligible to receive federal funding to make improvements, updates, and most importantly, retain these lands for the general public into the future. One of the proposed hallmarks is developing a “Shovel Ready” plan to create a “Cottage Community” at the newly acquired McKelvey Lake and connect those improvements to Lincoln Park and potentially spur revitalization on the Eastside.
In addition to his involvement with the city of Youngstown, Medina has been a member of the Youngstown Lifeguard Academy since his sophomore year of high school. After completing the academy’s 144-day training program, which focuses on youth development, community leadership and employment, he completed the academy’s two-week lifeguard training course to become a certified lifeguard. This past summer, Medina worked as a lifeguard at the Northside pool and also served as the pool’s assistant manager. At Liberty High School, Medina is a member of the track team. Just recently, the Youngstown Parks and Recreation Department nominated Medina as a Youth Leader of the Year.
“The Youngstown Lifeguard Academy requires that it Candidates, Cadets and Officers take part in community service projects. This is yet another opportunity for young people to give back to their community not just in sweat equity but leadership in various forms,” says Captain Luther C. Bell.