Julia Lever, a 15-year-old student from Germantown, is involved in about 20 activities inside and outside of school, but still managed to add another to the list by taking the initiative to set up a Mayor’s Youth Council in Gluckstadt.
Lever approached Gluckstadt mayor Walter Morrison to create a youth council after researching other towns surrounding Gluckstadt and their own youth councils. Noticing that these people were enthusiastic and making a difference at her age, the sophomore wanted the chance to do the same in her own hometown.
“Politics and government have always inspired me,” Lever said. “Since I was little, I have had this idea of being in government and working in politics. I see things happening around me and learn that the only way to really make a difference is to speak up and get involved. Nothing happens when you’re sitting at home.
If all goes well for Lever, she would like to work on Capitol Hill one day, and to achieve that, staying home is pretty much the last thing she does.
“I’m the kind of person who wants to do it all,” Lever said. “I must be busy, otherwise I will go crazy. Everyone who knows me knows that I love a full calendar. Long days of doing nothing seem horrible to me, so I try to get involved as much as possible. I actually have a list of things I’m on to keep everything organized.
Lever’s list of activities includes everything from the robotics team, the Spanish club, America’s future business leaders, recreational tennis, working at Madison Healthplex as a certified lifeguard, Jackson Symphony Subdeb, of the Madison First Baptist Church youth group, able to start her own sewing business during covid to “cure boredom” where she makes items to sell at an Etsy shop called 3Js Custom Sewing and at the market farmers in the summer. The list continues from there. But, while Lever has so many opportunities and feels lucky for it, she said there are certain things, as teenagers, that they would like to have in Gluckstadt.
“I know these big ideas take money,” Lever said. “I think if we can start small, who knows what we can achieve. Personally, I would really like to see a public tennis court in Gluckstadt, but who is going to donate this court? What about our own park or multi-use trail? Who will give the money? I think maybe, over time, we can make these things start to happen.
She believes the Mayor’s Youth Council is the key to achieving this, and when Gluckstadt became its own city, it fascinated her and she wanted to do her part.
“Gluckstadt has always been my home, and I’m just glad Gluckstadt is now a city and I’m glad we’re becoming a good community,” Lever said. “Obviously the council will become whatever the city and the mayor want it to become, but my goal is for the council to not just be seen as a bunch of teenagers coming up with some crazy ideas. I want everything to be useful. I know that means we will have challenges, but I think we can deal with them. We are young, but we have a lot to say.
The Mayor’s Youth Council has been approved by the Board of Directors
aldermen at their August meeting and now Lever’s first step is to start the application process and do some publicity to get people involved.
“From there, we can brainstorm and set goals,” Lever said. “I want it to be a strong program. I really do. The mayor is simply the nicest guy I think I’ve ever met. He really wants to see us succeed and connect with us and that matters. It’s really important to me.
She said it wasn’t her first club she’s been working on creating. She is also creating a young women’s leadership group at her school.
“There are so many girls out there who have the skills and the talents, and I want them to have the opportunity to explore that,” Lever said. “Most importantly, I want to build a network of girls who cheer each other on and don’t drag each other.”
She said the two groups she works on have one thing in common: inclusivity.
“Exclusion is one of my biggest pet peeves,” Lever said. “With the Mayor’s Youth Council, I want everyone to have the chance to get involved, whether they’re in public school, private school, or even at home. A lot of people have contacted me thinking it was just for Germantown, but no it’s not that at all. There is no exclusion, which I think is really important.
Lever said she was very excited about the enthusiasm for change, leadership skills and confidence that comes with the advice, and she hopes the whole community will embrace the advice and benefit from it – not just the teenagers.
“I think this will be a great way to promote pride in your area,” Lever said. “People bloom where they are planted. This has always been very important to me. Although I have big goals, Gluckstadt, Mississippi is where I was planted. This is where I was born and this is where I thrive.
To get involved in the mayor’s youth council, Lever can be contacted via the town hall of Gluckstadt.