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Chandler, Tempe
Voted among best for nation's young people
By Jonathan Cooper

October 8, 2005

A group founded by former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has confirmed what many young Tempe and Chandler residents have known for years: the two neighboring cities are among the nation’s best for young people.

America’s Promise--The Alliance for Youth chose both communities out of a pool of 700 applicants to be named among the 100 best in America.

The selection criteria were wide-ranging but required communities to fit the mold of the organization’s five promises: provide caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education and opportunities to help others.

In addition, communities had to provide opportunities for civic engagement and leadership growth to young people.

“I thought (the education) was very good. I felt the quality was superb,” said Ben Henderson, 18, a Chandler resident who attended Corona del Sol High School in the Tempe Union High School District.

“Going through high school…all I heard was, ‘We have to prepare you for college.’ And now that I’m here I feel there’s nothing left to do because they prepared me so well.”

The selection committee, made up of notable media, business and non-profit leaders nationwide, also looked at programs within cities designed to increase civic engagement among young residents.

Many Valley cities have committees of young people to advise local leaders on youth-related issues. Tempe youth praised that city’s Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council for its strength.

“MYAC is important because a lot of times, to understand what’s going on with the young members of the community, you need a young person to tell you what’s going on,” said Celina Castelli, 18, a MYAC member for three years.

“We have a really strong connection with the youth in our community and even the mayor will come to some of our meetings. It’s a really good community outreach program.”

Jessica Lowder, 18, called her hometown, Tempe, “a wonderful place to live” and a prime location for raising children.

“Tempe is very community oriented,” she said. “There are lots of places to get children involved, such as Kiwanis Park where they offer many activities like baseball and swimming lessons.”

Other young Tempe and Chandler residents talked of the communities’ opportunities for entertainment, which weren’t specifically among criteria for the list but are nonetheless important to young people.

“It was very suburban, very safe,” said Krissy Mikhova, 19, a Chandler resident. “Tempe and ASU and the Phoenix metro area are close by, so there are a lot of places to go”

“There’s a lot to do,” added Sheri Richmond, 18, who has lived in both communities. “You can go to Mill, and there are lots of places to hang out.”

The only other Arizona communities on the unranked list were Scottsdale and Yavapai County.

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