The Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation of the municipality of Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur encapsulates the true essence of youth leaders through the numerous initiatives they plan to consistently implement, and the vision they possess for the agtutubo (youth) of their town.
Just before they could warm their seats as newly-elected officials, Santa Maria SK Federation President, Kyle Andrea Therese Ong stated during an interview, that they take pride in the free printing services they started prior to the Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Free Printing Services
It became a trend during the pandemic since the students and teachers needed printing and photocopy services as despite having their classes online, there was still schoolwork they had to print.
“This project was one of our very first initiatives. We feel eternally grateful that we are of service to the youth of Santa Maria, of course with the support of the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Santa Maria headed by Mayor Brigido Camarillo, Jr., Vice Mayor Michael Florendo, and my colleagues at the council,” Ong expressed.
Before the typhoon last September, the Santa Maria SK distributed three sets of desktop computers and printers to each barangay.
There were 33 barangay recipients which allowed the SK to reach more students and was made possible with the additional equipment from the LGU.
The pandemic proved to be of no hindrance for the SK officials to fulfill their role as public servants.
They extended their services conducting outreach programs where they first targeted the most remote area in the municipality, Sitio Paring of Barangay Babalasioan.
SK Federation President Ong described their experience as a fulfilling once in a lifetime opportunity due to the response of the people who were very welcoming and appreciative of their efforts.
She mentioned that the said sitio was difficult to get to as it required them to walk for hours through a mountain in order to reach the area, but it was one of their goals and the highlight of their activities during the Christmas season of 2019.
Healthy Juan Kabataan
It is the federation’s first time to launch the Healthy Juan Kabataan last year, around September 2021, as part of their International Youth Day celebration with the main purpose of determining the health of the children aged zero to five years old through their height and weight.
The federation provided food and vitamins, and are also planning to make ordinances to guarantee the continuity of the project and monitor the well-being of the kids.
Mental Health Awareness
There were cases of suicide in the municipality in the previous year, so as SK federation they decided to act on it and as a first step, they passed an ordinance to have a Community Mental Health program for the town, in partnership with the Rural Health Unit (RHU) of Santa Maria and the whole of the LGU.
They also intend to conduct awareness campaigns, and although there are a lot of fora available online, Ong said that it is imperative to reach out to barangays, as it is not easy for the youth experiencing mental health problems to come forward.
She considers the stigma around mental health issues as a factor and said that there is a need to penetrate that problem first, to bit by bit remove the stigma and encourage the youth to speak up.
The SK federation plans on establishing the youth center this year, which will serve as a place where the youth safely socialize, as well as to serve as an information desk for their concerns, and provide services such as lending of sports equipment, chairs, and tables.
The SK federation passed an ordinance on the Gawad Parangal of Santa Maria.
This aims to acknowledge youth who are excelling in their studies through cash incentives, not only for tertiary students but also to board passers or top notchers and senior high school graduating students who will also be granted automatic scholarship from the LGU.
Among the many accomplishments of the SK Federation, one important role was to act as logistics during the aftermath of the Typhoon Maring, where various sectors tapped them for assistance in distributing relief goods to different areas.
Moreover, for this year, the Santa Maria SK has a long list of programs and projects they aim to implement, such as educating the youth on teenage pregnancy, legislating ordinances and resolutions on this, and partnering with schools to teach reproductive health.
Initiatives are also lined up on an information drive on the rights of the youth as electorate during the upcoming May 9 elections.
They plan to distribute pamphlets and brochures, and post tarpaulins.
As the SK Federation of Santa Maria promises to be there for each and every kabataan of Santa Maria, their president reiterates their motto of “No kabataan (youth) will be left behind.” (JCR/AMB/ATV PIA Ilocos Sur)