Lack of gathering places among issues raised

By Louis Hoglund

A Pelican Rapids area group of teens and young adults, The Youths, have been meeting regularly and, on Jan. 10, appeared before the Pelican Rapids City Council to seek more support.
Pictured, spokespersons for the group, Lexie Pixley and Abe Gonzalves.

A bunch of Pelican Rapids area youth activists would love world peace; clean air and water; low inflation; and full employment.  

But for now, they’d settle for someplace to congregate and hang out. 

“The Youths” is the title of the coalition of Pelican area students who have been meeting at the library since autumn. On Jan. 10, they took their message to city hall. Among other talking points, the group called for a diverse task force to discuss youth issues, with an eye toward a future community center.

“Amplify the power of youth voices,” was the message from Lexie Pixley. She and a fellow spokesperson expressed their concern about a lack of space for teens and young adults.  

Without a community center—or really anywhere to gather—they find themselves hanging out in the high school parking lot.  

As many as 30 have gathered at recent meetings, said Pixley, all lamenting what they view as a lack of support for youth in the community.  

A community center, in some form, would be an end goal. But for now, Pixley and her comrades would like to start with a task force to focus on the topic. 

Meetings of The Youths at the Pelican library have been well attended.

Statement from The Youths of Pelican area

We are a community coalition of young adults trying to bring all aspects of the community together. We are coming together to lift up our voices to be heard.

Our mission is to lift the Youth voices of Pelican Rapids as valued members of the community. We want to see ourselves in the spaces, activities, and events in Pelican Rapids. To continue amplifying the power of the youth’s voice to transform our future in our community.

Having a physical and emotional space in the community would allow us to see ourselves as valued members of the Pelican Rapids community.

We are here to share who we are and ask for your help and support to work toward our vision.

Lexie Pixley speaking at the library.

“We hear your voice,” said Mayor Brent Frazier, commending the young people for bringing their message to the “public square.”

Recreational opportunities for youth have been an issue for decades, noted Councilman Kevin Ballard, a Pelican native himself. Sympathetic to the group, Ballard said it was “great that you’re lighting a fire…I just hope we can help.”

The Youths have been meeting at the Pelican Rapids Public Library regularly. Pictured above, Celeste Koppe, left, from West Central Initiative, offering input to Pelican area youth.

“I’m ecstatic about youth stepping forward,” said Councilman Curt Markgraf. The city has money set aside for a possible future community center—but he acknowledged it is only a fraction of what would be needed for such an undertaking. 

Despite a lack of physical space, The Youths has nonetheless taken positive steps with its own initiative. Movie nights, skating-sledding, and other events have been planned.  

Youth has also recruited adult support. Pelican high school teacher Abby Mooney attended a recent Youth meeting. West Central Initiative has also taken an interest in The Youths’ efforts. New Pelican School Board member Staci Allmaras has also been an advisor and will be invited to a future city council meeting to discuss the topic, including grant possibilities.