Saratoga teen commission leaders serve city and youth

Juniors+Pranav+Chittaranjan+and+Nivi%0AMadhan+are+members+of+Saratoga%E2%80%99s+Youth+Commission.

Sunny Li

Juniors Pranav Chittaranjan and Nivi Madhan are members of Saratoga’s Youth Commission.

Youqi Huang

Juniors Pranav Chittharanjan and Nivi Madhan are members of Saratoga’s Youth Commission, serving as the liaison between Saratoga’s youth and City Council. The commission also organizes activities for children and teens around the city and volunteers at community events.

To fill one of 11 positions, interested middle and high school students fill out an application and complete an interview with City Council members. Once selected, each member serves a two-year term and can choose to run for either Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer or PR/Marketing Chair.

Members of the commission are held responsible for creating and planning events, but they work with adult liaisons, such as recreation coordinator Kayla Nakamoto, who help them handle money-related aspects of events and coordinate with other city officials. 

“Council members are just there to guide us,” Chittharanjan said. “Most of it is teen run, and as a second-year members, it’s my responsibility to lead the first-year commissioners.”

Both Chittharanjan and Madhan found out about the commission through their parents. Chittharanjan became a member in his sophomore year and is now serving the last year of his term as Chair of the commission. His responsibilities include facilitating meetings, approving agendas and budgets and meeting with other city officials.

“I wanted to make a change in my city,” Chittharanjan said. “Being part of Miller Leadership and ASB, enlarged my desire to help the community. Through the commission, I’ve learned how to organize events, and as Chair, I’ve learned how to manage others and stay accountable.”

Madhan is serving her first year in the commission as Treasurer. She handles finances, allocates monetary resources for their projects and oversees fundraisers.

“I wanted to be more involved with my community and apply the skills I was learning in ASB to a different environment.”  Madhan said.

This year, the commission hopes to bridge the gap between youths, teens and seniors in Saratoga and have planned their events around this central theme. They are also planning to hold several annual events, such as Color Dash and Kahoot Night, to help teens reduce stress. 

“Color Dash would be one of the best examples of how we try to unite the community,” Madhan said. “It’s one of our most popular events as it helps to connect people, which is the whole reason why the Youth Commission plans these events.”

The commission’s next event is a “SED” Talk, a speaker series modeled after TED talks. They are working with the Saratoga Library Teen Advisory Board and are aiming to invite teen and adult speakers to address topics such as mental wellness and career opportunities. 

To promote healthy living among the youth in Saratoga, the board has also worked with local elementary schools to hold events that encourage students to walk to school. They are also looking to partner with FUHSD for its Wellness Week Carnival later this year.

The commission has also taken on a larger project that involves building a park accessible for children with physical disabilities. To fund the project, the commission is holding several events, such as a boba fundraiser and ArtExtravaganza, during which community members display their work, whether it be dance, art, photography or music.

“Because we are a teen-oriented commission, we tend to focus on the teen side of things,” Chittharanjan said. “Most of our events are geared toward teen enjoyment, but the park is one of our larger, main projects.”

In addition, commission members also volunteer at community events to serve the city and publicize the commission to attendees. They have attended events such as the Celebrating Difference Carnival, Witchy Walk and Celebration of Lights, where members manned a booth and helped with various activities, such as face painting.

Through their experiences serving on the commission, Chittharanjan and Madhan have been able to give back to the community and develop invaluable soft and hard skills. 

“Being on the commission really showed me the importance of time management and collaboration, because we all make decisions and plan events as a collective in the commission,” Madhan said.