All posts by Stephanie Sims

Global Youth Service Day

GYSD 2015 logo

Ionia County Youth Advisory Council (YAC)
Awarded Global Youth Service Day Grant

The Ionia County YAC has received a $500.00 Global Youth Service Day mini grant in support of a project addressing childhood hunger. Awarded by the YSA (Youth Service America), the 2015 Disney Friends for Change Grant will engage area students in direct service work to benefit the IM Kids 3rd Meal Program.

friends for change logo

The YAC, Youth Advisory Council consists of students from all high schools in Ionia County and are a part of the Ionia County Community Foundation. They gather once a month to discuss issues affecting youth in our communities and to take action on important youth causes.

YSA Logo

The GYSD mini-grant allows Ionia County YAC students to organize a volunteer project that addresses a critical community need, Childhood hunger. 1 out of 5 children in Ionia county and 1 out of 4 children in Montcalm county are food insecure. They represent a local crisis for our communities as hunger prevents children from reaching their full potential.

IM Kids 3rd Meal is a feeding program, striving to end childhood hunger. They provide over 400 sack dinners to food insecure children Monday through Friday.

High school YAC students along with middle school students from our STEP UP program will meet at the IM Kids 3rd Meal facility on Friday, April 17, 2015 from 10 AM -12:00 PM to make trail mix, ball melons, repackage foods, and decorate bags for the meals.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact: Allison Peabody at 616-527-4900 ext. 1223 or at

IM_Kids_3rd_Meal_Color  YAClogo

“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



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!

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!


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 –>