For the past two years, I have been the co-chair of the West Vancouver Youth Advisory Council (YAC), an organization that helps raise awareness about local politics among the local youth. As one of the team leaders, I realized that we needed to gain some expertise about local politics. With the agreement of Councillor Booth, a District of West Vancouver council member and consultant to our team, I implemented a schedule to attend council meetings in order to have a direct insight to how government works. At first, we found the language and protocols in a district council meeting very complex, and it took us a few visits to fully understand them. Using this unique experience, our team wrote a script that mimics the actual council meeting and presented a ‘youth council meeting’ during Youth Week in order to demonstrate our mission statement and initiatives to the youth of our community. During the meeting we addressed strategies to expose more youth to the importance of local politics and various other issues that were raised by the attendees.
Continuing our purpose of raising awareness of local politics among youth, our team obtained an opportunity to hold up an important local political event: the all- candidates meeting for electing a new councillor. We invited all the candidates of council to our local library to meet up with people in our community. But before the candidates came, we asked people attending this meeting to form a small discussion group to generate some questions that they wanted to ask their candidates. I was happy to see that not only adults, but also many youths around my age, attended the meeting and joined in the conversation with strangers of different age groups. With the collaboration of youths and adults, we actually produced many interesting questions that helped us to learn about the perspectives of each candidate.
We also helped with an project called “Give me five.” “Give me five” is an activity to give youth an opportunity to present their thought on the stage. I helped with the script and the content of the presentation of one of the member about the importance cultural diversity in Canada. By helping the member to make the presentation, I have realized that this project is also another way of raising the awareness about local politics through the voice of youth. The presentation went well during the Youth appreciation award though I was not able to attend due to the IB exam.
I believe that every small step in engaging our youth in politics will make our community a better place, and we are striving to create even more initiatives for the coming year.