The following is a guest piece submitted by Anthony Kalvans, a 21-year-old local elected official, in response to 5 Ideas for Getting Youth Involved in City Issues.
In the May 19th article by Amy Enbysk, Miss Enbysk talks about ideas on how to get the youth involved, a lot of which are unique and innovative Ideas that I think are great. However I believe that the problem with a lack of youth involvement is often over thought and money is wasted with studies and grand schemes done by people outside of the youth age bracket. From my own personal experience it’s really simple on how to get the youth involved. Most youth really just want to have their ideas considered and be treated like adults, after all there is a reason why the old saying goes “youth is wasted on the young”
Why is so much effort being put on creating separate programs for youth, what about a broader inclusionary stance? Sure there is the token youth representative on the local school board but they hold no power. That same student then reports to the schools leadership program which instead focuses on planning for dances, while issues such as media devices during breaks, after school transportation, and vocational classes get relegated to the sidelines. It’s no wonder the people from my generation feel apathy towards leadership, when it appears that effort is put into distract them from issues at hand.
Let’s expand the role to municipal government. While the idea listed in the article came from a high school student, it was again something without much substance and effort was expelled to create a separate group. Why not go to a more simplistic view and create openings on existing committees for the youth? If students are interested in safety, why not appoint them to the public safety committee; if they are interested in finances, why not appoint them to the budget and finance committee. Many of these municipal committees already include special interest groups for the local business association or minority outreach. It seems silly to go out and create a separate group all together when including them would be more efficient, plus municipal governments won’t end up with two competing proposals.
Again, why reinvent the wheel, why expend hours and waste taxpayer money creating separate groups for the youth. The youth have grown up in a different environment, they have different experience, but they just like anyone else want to be treated equally and fairly.
Anthony Kalvans is 21 years old and a director for the San Miguel Community Services District. Anthony is also past board president and serves on the Paso Robles Groundwater Advisory Committee.