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Nanaimo youth council ready to lead

Aakash Pawar, a 19-year old Vancouver Island University student, is excited to be joining Nanaimo’s first-ever mayor’s youth advisory committee. He was chosen from 28 contenders vying to fill one of a dozen seats on the advisory body.  - TAMARA CUNNINGHAM/The News Bulletin
Aakash Pawar, a 19-year old Vancouver Island University student, is excited to be joining Nanaimo’s first-ever mayor’s youth advisory committee. He was chosen from 28 contenders vying to fill one of a dozen seats on the advisory body.
— image credit: TAMARA CUNNINGHAM/The News Bulletin

Nanaimo’s youth advisory council gives the next generation of taxpayers a chance to effect change, according to new member Cassidy Sanford.

Sanford and 11 other young people from across the city were announced last week as members of Nanaimo’s first mayor’s youth advisory council, which holds its inaugural meeting on Wednesday.

The committee was struck by Nanaimo city councillors last January, with an aim to give youth a say in civic matters, from transportation to public safety and environment.

Sanford, a 15-year-old Cedar Secondary student, said she’s excited to learn about local government and work with other youths and believes she can be a good representative for her area of Nanaimo.

“I feel like we can effect the change and the city can benefit from our perspective because we are future taxpayers,” she said, adding there hasn’t been much of a chance for youths to have their voices heard.

“We care for the community and we can improve it and we can make good change.”

Twenty-eight contenders vied for a seat on the new youth council.

The favoured dozen were announced during an open meeting last week by Mayor John Ruttan, who said that narrowing down candidates was a difficult decision. “I just want to say it was really quite a pleasure to have a great response from the youth of our community,” he said. “[The committee is] going to give us on council an opportunity to hear input and ideas from the young people and I think this is really going to be something we’d like to continue indefinitely.”

Aakash Pawar, a 19-year old Vancouver Island University student, said he was happy to get the call to join the group which is anticipated to have unprecedented access to city council for an advisory body.

His family moved from India four years ago and he said he’d like to be part of improving his new home and be a positive inspiration to other youth.

“Really, I have never been a part of anything like this,” said Pawar, who has previously been involved with soccer teams and cadets. “Not knowing how to do stuff, that’s part of the excitement.”

The council gets together on May 21, when they will establish a mandate and meet city politicians.

Other members of the advisory body include: Alexander Cheung, Bri Odgers, Claudia Thompson, Coleman Kaps, Kent MacDonald, Mackenzie Cumberland, Madeline Shred, Malcom Beaton, Samantha Bishop and Sarah Lumley.

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