Being a young person, I have found that I have brought the median age of our local board down by quite a few years! I realise I am in a unique situation, carrying out a role that has typically been viewed as a ‘matured adult activity’. In August last year I was faced with a big decision regarding this role – whether or not I should sign off my candidacy enrolment form for the local elections. There were three words that kept eating away at me, leading to my hesitancy and my form being delivered only minutes before the cut off time. These words were, “you’re too young”.
In my view these three words have unduly influenced our society for too long, hampering the fulfillment in potential of our youth. It is important to be open-minded about how youth are viewed. They can be the source of solutions. They can be the change makers in our community. Are we encouraging young people to become agents of change instead of targets to be changed? Are we inspiring hope in our youth? Are we encouraging them to make their mark in our community?
This term on the board I would like to see effective channels for youth involvement in our area. Channels that spur on our youth to feel like they can have their say and become proactive. When going into a local school to advertise interest for a Hibiscus Coast youth council (if you are a school student and are interested in getting involved, please email me at email@example.com) – I asked students to put up their hand if they knew what the Local Board was. Not one hand was raised.
I certainly do not blame these students for their lack of knowledge as the work of the board hasn’t been easily accessible to youth. However, I am glad to announce that the Board will be particularly targeting youth input during the Local Board Plan consultation this year.
Furthermore, I believe that youth voting should be introduced at all schools so that the foundations are laid for the future. In last year’s election, Silverdale Primary did an exceptional job of educating their students on local body politics through the kids voting programme.
Needless to say, it is not about branding people by a number, it is about working together to achieve a common united goal. I am grateful to my fellow board members for providing the space for myself as a young person to feel valued, as we seek to see our community flourish and address the challenges. In the lyrics of Canadian band Sweatshop Union, “Small or large, we’re all part of the rhythm. We’re all in charge of this garden we’re given.”
Youth Blog will run several times a year and will be written by a variety of local young people. Anyone interested in contributing to this column is welcome to contact editor Terry Moore for more information.