Never underestimate the influence youths have in our community.
Thanks to the recommendation of the Pleasanton Youth Commission, smoking is now banned in all Pleasanton parks, and Mayor Jerry Thorne was on a TV30 program this week suggesting that the ban might be extended to the city's downtown business district.
The Youth Commission won the City Council's endorsement of the public parks ban last summer after offering an exhaustive study of the dangers secondhand smoke pose to others in the parks. The study earlier had been reviewed and the park-wide ban was supported by the city's Parks and Recreation and Human Services commissions.
Members of the Youth Commission, in their report, said that they were concerned about negative health effects from cigarette butts they found in parks, fire risks from improper cigarette disposal and "general health, safety and welfare concerns for persons using city parks and trails."
The ordinance adopted by the council also prohibits smoking on public trails and in city parking lots serving parks and trails. The commission exempted, however -- and curiously -- Callippe Preserve Golf Course, although the course's clubhouse already prohibits smoking inside the building or on its outdoors patio.
The Youth Commission had been investigating the city's current smoking restrictions and participated in the Alameda County Public Health Department's "Project Teen Friendly" program.
The project involved surveying the community about tobacco products being sold in local stores and observing how tobacco is being used in Pleasanton. It also gathered information from various health organizations, and members organized and undertook two weekend cigarette butt clean-ups at Ken Mercer Sports Park to quantify the amount of litter there.
Commissioners also sent along with their study to the council documents showing similar and even more onerous smoking bans in the neighboring communities of Danville, Dublin, Livermore and San Ramon.
For their work and their determination and strength of character, members of the 2013-14 and 2014-15 commissions were presented with the Tri-Valley Heroes Environmental Stewardship Award by Embarcadero Media's East Bay Division, which includes the Pleasanton Weekly and DanvilleSanRamon.com. The presentation was made at an awards ceremony held in late October at the DoubleTree by Hilton Pleasanton at the Club.
"We look around us every day and see heroes who deserve recognition," Pleasanton Weekly president and publisher Gina Channell-Allen said.
"Our staff decided in 2012 to create a program to recognize those individuals, groups and organizations that stand out because of their actions, integrity and honor -- whether that hero is a firefighter who rescues a child from a burning house, the girl who is courageously battling leukemia, the business that allows its employees to mentor teens for an hour a week or the neighborhood group that cleans up the creek," she added.
Award recipients were nominated by community members for excellence in eight categories in all.
About 125 residents attended the ceremony at the Pleasanton hotel, congratulating the honorees before the presentation and then watching as each accepted their award and talked about their efforts in the community.
Several Youth Commission members and Pleasanton city officials were on hand to accept the award at the ceremony on behalf of the 2013-14 and 2014-15 commissions.
The Youth Commission acts as the liaison between Pleasanton's youth community and the City Council, advises the council on youth-related issues and promotes an understanding and appreciation of community affairs among the youth of Pleasanton.
The commission has of 11 regular members and three alternate members who serve a maximum of six years with three terms of two years. The regular adult commission is eligible to serve a maximum term of eight years with two four-year terms.
Those interested in being on the commission can apply online by completing the application and questionnaire.
"The Youth Commission provides a great opportunity for Pleasanton youth and teen population to get involved in their community and develop leadership skills," said Samu Tiumalu, the city's recreation supervisor for preschool, youth and teens.
Tiumalu said the commission is currently working on extending the no-smoking ban and also on a drought awareness campaign. It also is now updating the content on the Ptownlife.org website and planning for the Teen Job Fair on March 5 and the Youth in Government Day on March 8.
* The Pleasanton Youth Commission acts as the liaison between Pleasanton's youth community and the City Council, advises the City Council on youth-related issues, and promotes an understanding and appreciation of community affairs among the youth of Pleasanton.
* The commission has 11 regular members and 3 alternate members, including representatives from the high school and middle school communities.
* They can serve a maximum of six years, with three terms of two years. The regular adult commission member is eligible to serve a maximum term of eight years, with two four-year terms.
* Current projects include expanding its cigarette smoking study that led to a ban on smoking in public parks in Pleasanton, and also planning a drought awareness campaign.
* The 2015-16 Youth Commission consists of chairman Jonathan Pearce, vice chair Ardin Lo, Charles "Alex" Rigl, Taylor Sowers, Avni Patel, Louisa DuBose, Michelle Zhou, Russell Ambrosiewicz, Kate Inman, Elisa Allari and Arthur Hwang, along with Lori Franklin, adult representative, and Kimberly Chew, alternate adult representative.
* The commission is currently seeking a middle school representative. Those interested can apply online at www.cityofpleasantonca.gov/gov/boards.asp.