I Want To Serve On Council With Nolan – Part 2, Youth in the County

So I see Dryden’s point, but I can’t help but think about the message that Sarah Michel, Youth Inclusion Program (YIP) worker from the ROC (Recreation Outreach Centre) delivered at the recent County Foundation Vital Signs presentation.  Sarah noted that only half our youth describe themselves in good mental health.  The social and educational costs of COVID, the lack of full time well paying jobs in our community, a lack of affordable housing and now the responsibility for solving Climate Change. These are hefty demands on people who didn’t create these problems!

Then I saw Nolan Steen, a Queens University student, at the Mayoral All Candidates meeting last week. He had a very simple question for the candidates:  “Why should young people vote for you?”   There was a certain amount of mumbled response and then one candidate said “Because we’re up here and you’re not.”  The room groaned. The tone of the response pushed me back in my chair (and the candidate immediately lost my vote).

Nolan, admirably undaunted, turned up again the following night at the Picton Ward All Candidates Meeting to ask questions again.   We need more Nolans.  And we need a Council that will listen to them.  (Nolan did advise me that the candidate in question contacted him the next day to apologize.)

So here are a few thoughts I have for more youth engagement in the County

  • We need a Youth Advisory Council to Council.  The ROC’s Youth Advisory Council would seem a good place to start
  • We should ensure there is a youth representative on each Advisory committee – and connect them to one another – again a potential youth council
  • Vanessa Lavendar, our amazing youth rep on the Environmental Advisory Committee, has identified environmental champions at all the local high schools.  We should have a youth council of the EAC since it is our young people who will pay the biggest price if we can’t get our act together.
  • We need a closer working relationship between school trustees and council, with a focus on improving high school completion rates
  • Could our high school students tutor our elementary school students who are wrestling with particular subjects in order to complete their volunteer hours?
  • Scholarships for those from lower income families, or bursaries to help with transportation costs or the cost of a computer for distance learning.
  • And of course – more affordable housing and year round full time jobs.

And maybe one day soon I’ll be serving on Council with Nolan and Vanessa

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