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City Council members applaud youth council
City Council members applaud youth council
Madison Crowell of the Hinesville Youth Council addresses City Council. Photo by Pat Donahue

Hinesville City Council members applauded the members of their youth council.

The youth council members presented to the elected body an idea born out of their own meetings and agenda, a plan for an outdoor fitness park in downtown Hinesville.

“They have made history today,” Hinesville City Manager Kenneth Howard said.

The outdoor fitness park, youth council mayor Jared Harriman told city council members, would address the need for public wellness spaces.

“It would cater to all individuals of all ages and fitness levels and be wheelchair accessible,” he said.

Among its proposed features are dual accessible parallel bars, joint use chin-up stations, a cardio walker and benches that can be used for sit ups and bench dips. There also will be a dual water fountain.

Harriman and the youth council suggested having the fitness park downtown.

“The park’s strategic location in downtown area ensures easy accessibility for a diverse demographic,” he said. “It creates a healthier and vibrant downtown environment.”

Harriman added the fitness park would benefit workers in the downtown area, along with students attending Georgia Southern University, First Preparatory Christian Academy and Bradwell Institute. It also could serve kids attending the weekly farmers’ market at Bradwell Park.

Youth Council members pitched their idea to Howard, and he has looked at potential sites, going so far as to site the equipment on a location. But a final spot for the fitness park has not been decided.

Meanwhile, city council members congratulated the youth council on its proposal. Council member Jason Floyd, a longtime proponent of the youth council, said he will help support their idea.

“When we came up with this program, we wanted an actionable item,” he said, “something we felt the youth council would be passionate about and something we could put our boots to the ground. You brought that today. This is what this body has asked for. I’ll be the first to say I will champion it.”

Council member Vicky Nelson also lauded the younger residents on their work and their plan.

“You all have done an awesome job in creating this exercise station,” she said.

Mayor Karl Riles said what the youth council has done is what the city council hoped it would do when it was started — bring a tangible idea that could be put into action by the city.

“You will find there are plenty of organizations that share this type of vision that you do. It was an honor to see you guys put this great work together,” Mayor Riles said. “We’ve had the youth council for a while but this right here is exactly what it was designed to do.”

Howard said there are steps the city has to go through, and he anticipates the current youth council members to be involved, even after some of them leave for college.

“They will be a part of this process until the very end,” he said.

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