Nanaimo has some great examples of youths doing amazing things.
Students helping the homeless, setting world hockey records or simply furthering their education to one day make a significant medical breakthrough.
So it’s surprising that only now is the City of Nanaimo looking to tap into that resource through a youth council.
Coun. George Anderson is spearheading the inititative that would see youths in Nanaimo sit on a council that would look at issues facing the community and provide feedback from their unique perspectives.
Youth councils proved successful in other municipalities, including Saanich and Victoria, particularly when the actual elected council listened to initiatives and ideas put forth, empowering the youths to continue developing their ideas.
But a few caveats are needed to make a youth council successful and not simply a forum to plan the next skateboard park fundraiser.
Youths need guidance on city hall’s expectations and goals of the council, and a strong mandate to focus their efforts on issues affecting the community.
Dozens of students in Nanaimo school district want to help their community grow and prosper, but many lack the venue to do so. A youth council might just provide that by giving them a platform to speak and an opportunity to see their efforts put into action.
They have the ear of their peers and can reach a significant pool of expertise, ideas and labour to help the community develop economically and socially.
And hopefully youth councillors would spur not only their peers, but also their parents – Nanaimo has a lack of engagement among a significant portion of its adult population as well. Seeing children setting a positive civic example could encourage more adults to participate in local government.