San Carlos YAC helps community navigate pandemic

The+San+Carlos+Youth+Center+is+blocked+off+from+the+public+due+to+pandemic+restrictions.+The+onset+of+the+pandemic+forced+the+San+Carlos+Youth+Advisory+Council+%28YAC%29+to+transition+online.

Evan Wang

The San Carlos Youth Center is blocked off from the public due to pandemic restrictions. The onset of the pandemic forced the San Carlos Youth Advisory Council (YAC) to transition online.

The San Carlos Youth Advisory Council (YAC) brings people together through community events and online activities.

San Carlos citizens can participate in various events organized by the YAC, including blood drives and city-wide cleanups. Additionally, the council acts as the youth board of the city and provides leadership opportunities for students wanting to take part in the community.

“The Youth Advisory Council is to provide a way for us to be interactive and interact within the government, and also just have a voice and a say in what happens in the community,” YAC member Samina Ginwalla said.

The YAC consists of several subcommittees, each pursuing a specific topic or event addressing the community. Before the COVID-19 shut-down, the YAC would discuss issues and events at meetings held at the Youth Center. However, at the onset of the pandemic, the YAC’s routine was knocked off course, and COVID-19 regulations proved to be a challenge for their activities.

“Aside from not being able to have our meetings in person and having the same bond and connections that we used to have, it’s also been kind of challenging planning out events,” said Ginwalla.

However, according to Alice Finkelstein, a member of the YAC, the council was able to transition quickly and continue its activities online.

“We used to have meetings in person, but because of the pandemic, they’re moved online to Zoom. Also, all of our subcommittees meet on Zoom. We kind of adjusted to the transition,” Finkelstein said.

As of now, the YAC’s in-person activities are on pause. Instead, the council engages the community through its YouTube channel, posting virtual activity videos for kids.

“We’ve done things like paper airplane making, science experiments, and cookie decorating,” Finkelstein said. “So it’s been like an outlet for kids during the pandemic.”

A poster displaying information about the YAC. (Evan Wang)

Along with online activities, the YAC also hosted mental health workshops. According to Ginwalla, the workshops were beneficial because of the toll COVID-19 has taken on mental health.

“They had an actual professional come in and talk about mental health, give ways to de-stress, and give some really helpful resources,” said Ginwalla.

Caitlyn Matoso, the advisor and supervisor of the YAC, expressed her gratitude for the group’s actions.

“I was really, really proud of the things they did because they were so essential for the pandemic. I’ve honestly been very proud of how they’ve been able to get creative and still do something at least once a month for the community,” said Matoso.