This year’s Hastings Youth Council is up and running and keen to have their voice heard on anything from the environment to health and diversity.
Made up of 19 members, aged between 15 and 23, six of whom are returning from last year, the Youth Council is responsible for creating dynamic engagement opportunities for young people to participate in, be heard and be involved in community activities and government decisions.
This year’s chairperson, Karamu High School student Keelan Hesterman, is returning for his second year on the council, and believes the real opportunity for the youth council to make a difference lies in making submissions on council projects, sitting at sub-committee tables and advocating for young people.
“On top of that, our role is to come up with better and more streamlined ways to support rangatahi in Heretaunga.
“My vision is that in 2021 we can really get our teeth into council policy, and build our reputation as a youth body that provides considered and relevant ideas and perspectives on how we deal with the issues facing our region, particularly in regards to our young people.”
Starting last year, youth councillors now appoint members to council subcommittees to help them achieve this.
At a recent council meetings, youth appointments were made to the Great Communities, District Development, Eco District, and Civic and Administration subcommittees, and the Active Transport committee.
Deputy chair Chanay Peri, who works at the Ministry of Social Development, says the youth council plays a significant role in supporting and enhancing the rangatahi of Heretaunga to speak up on those views that are most important to them.
“My expectation is that we give our youth the ability to see their voice made visible in the community. I hope that our council can make a difference so that this work can continue through many more youth councils to come.”
Hastings councillor Wendy Schollum says she is excited to work alongside and mentor the Youth Council again in 2021.
“While youth councils around New Zealand have had mixed success, with many models being well-meaning tokenism, the Hastings Youth Council has adopted a new model that looks set to pave the way for other regions.”
Developed and driven by the youth councillors, the model continues to build credibility and respect for the views of Hastings rangatahi through considered Youth Council succession planning, active participation in policy debate on council sub-committees and formal submissions during council consultation.
1 April 2021
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