“Youth Advisory Council lends a hand for MLK Day”

(Article and picture credit to Jordan Carson and WOTV 4 Social Sizzle)

“IONIA, Mich. (WOTV)-During Martin Luther Kin, Jr. Day, local students are lending a hand. Here are a few of the ways that students are giving back, in celebration. The Youth Advisory Council (YAC) is comprised of high school students from six surrounding schools in the county. The YAC consists of students from Belding, Ionia, Lakewood, Lowell, Portland, and Saranac schools. They gather once a month to discuss issues affecting youth in their communities and to take action on important youth causes.

“At the January meeting, the YAC welcomed their Stepping Toward Educational Progress; Underachievement Perishes (STEP UP) 8th grade mentees, to help pack dentistry, hygiene, and hat/mitten/scarf bags. Students worked together to make 500 hundred  bags to give to the IM KIDS 3rd MEAL program, and local food pantries. The YAC also had the opportunity to listen to Erin Roberts, the Executive Director from Relief After ViolentEncounter, speak about the importance of daily supplies for children and families. Without programs that reach out to the community, like the YAC and STEP UP, many people in need would go without. The essential packages ensure that people in the community have critical supplies. Students are making a big difference by giving to others. Through packages like these, many families will have one less need to fill.

‘The Cool To Be Kind challenge is our way to improve the kindness we already have in our school.’ – Brittany Munson, GHS 12

“Both groups also decorated a total of 200 bookmarks for the Students Rebuild Save the Children & Global Nomads Group. The bookmarks will be sent to children internationally, as a motivational tool for reading. These will be sent in for the Bezos Family Foundation to donate $1—up to $300,000—to Save the “Children’s LiteracyBoost” program. These programs are helping children around the globe, including in Latin America (Peru), Africa (Mali), and Asia (Nepal).

‘This challenge is just one more way to bring our students together and create more kindness in our school. And we will have fun doing so.’ –  Alec Fowler, GHS 11

“By participating in these projects, local students are helping to strengthen other communities. One of the YAC co-chairs, Hannah Lufkin expressed, “This meeting was a blast! I think that the YAC working together to help out community organizations like this is very important. It’s a fun way for us to give back. Volunteering in our community is important to the YAC as a whole.” In doing service to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., students find they can make a positive change in the world, just as he has. The YAC is able to improve education, health care, and literacy for communities. The key to great success is working together, and local students are stepping up to secure this dream.”photo-1-3



Posted in Events, Service Projects
We are featured in I’M Kids Feeding Program’s New Commercial!
Posted in Events, Service Projects
YAC on eightWest!

Today, our very own Deborah Wagner and Chloe Alberta were interviewed on eightWest!  Check out the video here:

You two were amazing!  Thank you!  And thank you to the team of Wood TV 8 and eightWest  for helping us bring more attention to our efforts!

Posted in Drive to Survive
We were on TV!

On October 2, 2013, we woke up extra early (3AM for some!) and traveled to Grand Rapids to visit the news-station of Wood TV 8.  We stood just outside the newsroom, loaded with Celebrate My Drive signs, a Drive to Survive banner, and students wearing this years D2S tee-shirts.  We had students from Portland and Saranac High Schools representing us, as well as a couple Ionia County Intermediate School District VISTAs, and the ICISD’s Deborah Wagner.  Our students were eager to wave those signs and smile  big for the camera each time they panned at us.  Not once did we complain about the slight chill or being on our feet for an hour and a half.  We were too excited for this!  Toward the end of Daybreak, news anchor Emily Linnert came out of interviewed Deb on live TV!

Thank you, Deborah!  You were amazing!  Thank you YAC students!  We couldn’t have done this without you!  And thank you Wood TV 8 for inviting us out and taking the time to come out and learn more about our programs!


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3rd Annual Teen Driver Safety Conference: Oct. 18th 2013

We, Ionia County Youth Advisory Council, are hosting our 3rd Annual Teen Driver Safety Statewide Conference on October 18, 2013 in Holland, Michigan at the DoubleTree by Hilton.  This event is youth-led and will showcase our DRIVE TO SURVIVE (D2S) Initiative.  This initiative is sponsored by State Farm.

The 3rd Annual Teen Driver Safety Statewide Conference welcomes over 300 students from different communities in Michigan.  This year, to help implement, we are partnering with the Holland Police Department and students from Ottawa County schools.  The conference focuses on spreading awareness of the risks of distracted driving through presentations of personal stories, shocking statistics, simulations, and other impactful means.  Youth organize and present at this even to promote:

“If you want to text and talk, you should probably walk;
“Pull your seat belt snug, give it an extra tug;
“Stay alive, don’t drive and drive.”

Our goal is to have students leave a safer driver.

A number of activities have been planned: from four keynote speakers and eight breakout sessions to eleven simulations and twelve vending tables.  This is organized to provide information from key stakeholders in Michigan on the issue of distracted driving and teen driver safety.

Stay up to date on Drive To Survive via our FB page –>

Posted in Drive to Survive, Events
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Ionia County YAC Drive To Survive Conference Results

The Ionia County YAC Drive To Survive (D2S) team hosted their 2nd Annual Teen Driver Safety State-Wide Conference October 2012 and the evaluation results are in! To see the positive impact these teens are making on their peers check out the feedback the students gave the YAC.

Posted in Uncategorized
Driving Tips for the Winter!

Winter weather is here, make sure that you and your teen are prepared for the weather conditions that you may encounter. 

Driving in
Snow and Ice
Sometimes, driving in the snow and ice may be unavoidable.  Have a discussion with your teen about what to do if they are caught in a snow or ice storm.

Tips to share with your teen driver:
Drive slow.
Drive in a low gear.
Stopping distances are longer in the snow and ice.
In general, if you have anti-lock brakes, apply firm, continuous pressure. If you don’t have anti-lock brakes, pump the brakes gently.
If you find yourself in a skid, stay calm and ease your foot off the gas while carefully steering in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go. Stay off the pedals (gas and brake) until you are able to maintain control of your vehicle. This procedure, known as “steering into the skid,” will bring the back end of your car in line with the front.
Do not pass plow trucks.
Always turn on your headlights.
Always wear your seat belt.


UnderYOURInfluence NewsletterJanuary 2013

Posted in Uncategorized
Ionia County YAC Receives Grant For Teen Driver Safety.


Money to help keep teens safe on the road and behind the wheel.

Learning how to drive is a big milestone in a teen’s life, yet being in the driver seat is one of the most dangerous places for a teen to be. Car crashes are the leading killer of teens in America today. The Ionia County Youth Advisory Council (YAC) Drive to Survive (D2S) teen driver safety initiative has received the YOUth in the Driver Seat Grant for $1,000 from Youth Service America (YSA) and State Farm Insurance.

This grant that YAC has received will help them implement a semester of service that encourages safe driving habits, community service and student achievement.  Advocating on their main three areas for teen driver safety and slogans:

“Pull your seatbelt snug, give it an extra tug.”
“If you want to text and talk, you should probably walk!”
“Stay alive. Don’t drink and drive.”

Along with creating awareness, YAC will propose their solution and tools to use to generate support for addressing teen driver safety with service-learning throughout the state with peers, parents, teachers and partners.

The YOUth in the Driver Seat Grant will help the YAC students continue to expand D2S by reaching more people to create good driving habits with the hope to save a life.


To learn more about YAC, their efforts and the D2S initiative check out the links to their Facebook Pages.

Posted in Uncategorized
Detroit Pistons Recognize Ionia County YAC


Student efforts making a difference in the community.

Car crashes are the number one killer of teens in America. The Ionia County Youth Advisory Council (YAC) has been chosen by the Detroit Pistons as a Come Together Game Changers Grant Challenge recipient for their project, Drive to Survive (D2S).

Through this initiative YAC has gained national attention. The students have raised awareness for teen driver safety through presentations in schools, conferences, public service announcements, billboards and marketing materials. D2S would not be possible without the help and funding from State Farm Insurance.

Chosen as a recipient, YAC was invited to attend the Pistons vs. Pacers game and watch warm up courtside on Dec. 15. Not only were they given tickets to the game but Greg Monroe, Pistons Center, donated his personal section for the group of 65 people to sit in and gave them t-shirts.

YAC students will be receiving $1,000 to continue their efforts in making a difference in their communities through D2S. As well as, being recognized under the community section on the Detroit Pistons website as Game Changers www.nba.com/pistons/game-changers.

These motivated students are from local high schools in the area: Ionia, Belding, Saranac, Lakewood, Portland and Lowell. The main reason they continue to develop their project is they do not want anyone else they know to become another statistic. They have one focus guiding their efforts, to save a life.

Posted in Uncategorized
2nd Annual Teen Driver Safety Statewide Conference

This year the Ionia County Youth Advisory Council held the 2nd Annual Teen Drivers Safety Statewide Conference. The Conference was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, MI on October 26th, 2012. 300 Students attended the conference from over 10 different schools across the state of Michigan! The Conference had 5 keynote speakers throughout the day including, Jim Santilli, Laurel Zimmerman, Tori Buda, Deb Wilks, and Bonnie Raffaele. Students were also able to hear 11 different speakers for breakout sessions during the conference including, Harry D Jacobs High School, Randy Rand, Deb Wilks, Deputy Sower, Terry Jungel, April Rodgers, Neil Brown, Rick Rogusky, Bonnie Raffaele, Deputy Guernsey, and Amy Crisp. All of our speakers come from organizations striving to improve teen driver safety, as well as many personally experiencing the aftermath of distracted driving accidents. As well as hearing the keynote speakers and having the chance to attend various breakout sessions, students were able to experience 5 simulators.  A HUGE thank you to State Farm Insurance for sponsoring our event! As well as our other sponsors that included, Ionia County Community Foundation, Ionia County Intermediate School District, Ford Driving Skills for Life, Portland Products, TL Masonry, Wiesen Incorporated, Born to Shop, and VanAndel & Flikkema Chrystler Jeep.

Please check out our video about this years conference on youtube!





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