Maysville City Commissioners learned Thursday what community issues are important to Mason County Middle School students.
The students made presentations to commissioners as part of the annual Amazing Shake, a program that helps to teach students life skills, according to eighth-grade teacher Kerri Stanfield.
According to Stanfield, all 600 students at MCMS were asked to complete a community service project.
"It was something they were passionate about, something that could give back to the community," she said. "Of those, we chose the top 90 presentations. They presented to the Mason County Board of Education and school administrators."
Stanfield said the top 24 presentations were chosen from there. Those students had to give persuasive speeches and the top 10 were chosen to participate in a luncheon, where they were evaluated on their etiquette.
"From there, we chose our top eight, who are here today," she said. "We asked them to come up with something they felt was a problem in the community. Finding a problem is the easy part; everyone can find a problem, but what most people struggle with is finding a feasible solution, so that's what we're trying to teach them."
Stanfield said the students were encouraged to speak to their parents but to come up with the problems on their own.
Some of the projects presented including adding sidewalks near busy streets, adding a center for teens to have something to do and providing nutritious food for hungry children.
The first student to present was Kiersten Coleman, who discussed the importance of having sidewalks on busy streets in order to provide safe passage for pedestrians.
"Whenever you go on U.S. 62, near McDonald's, you will always see people walking around, pushing strollers or even over in the gutters," she said. "This is a huge safety concern. Large groups of high school students will often times, after school, leave to walk to local businesses."
Coleman gave several statistics about the number of pedestrians killed each year from motorists. She also told commissioners that sidewalks would encourage more people to go out and get exercise.
"Walking contributes to both physical and mental health," Coleman said. "Buyers will also pay more for property in areas with walkways and sidewalks because it enhances neighborhoods and community. Sidewalks also improve access to business and reduce the need for cars, so it reduces the amount of carbon in the air."
Cole Wright discussed the importance of having a teen center in the area.
"Drug and alcohol abuse is a plague that sweeps across not only our community but every community," he said. "It needs a serious solution. One solution I came up with is to have a teen center. The YMCA and Boys and Girls Club is a great place for teenagers to go on the weekends, but they close early."
Wright said he believes having a teen center would keep teenagers from going out and causing trouble at night if they had something fun to do.
"Perhaps they could go to the center, instead of going out and possibly doing illegal activities," he said.
Wright said there are several grants available that exist for the purpose of entertainment purposes.
"It wouldn't be hard to apply for a grant or find an empty vacant building, as there are many in town," he said.
Wright said the city could also look into doing something with the skate park that is currently located behind the Mason County Public Library.
"If we could move the skate park to a different location perhaps it would be more effective in accomplishing its goal," he said.
Maura Hartman told commission members, her concern was about something called "hidden hunger."
According to Hartman, hidden hunger is a term used for children who are not receiving appropriate nutrients.
"Hunger doesn't always manifest itself in a lack of food," she said. "Hidden hunger is a lack of nutrients, such as Vitamin A, D, iodine, and iron that are crucial to a child's development."
According to Hartman, in the United States, a child can be experiencing under nutritious foods, due to junk food being abundant and cheap.
"Worldwide, 45 percent of childhood deaths are attributed to undernutrition," she said. "A solution I feel could solve this problem would be to establish community gardens. This would help to provide healthy foods for those who need it."
Hartman said community gardens would also increase community relations and could increase nearby property values.
"This is a win-win-win situation," she said. "It's a win for children, communities and property owners."
Other presentations included homeless animals by Allison Pollitt, drain smartly by Annalee Whitten, entertainment for teenagers by Aubrey Kimble, increasing the number of voters by Emily Greenwell and high school dropouts by Shadiah Greene.