Elected lead­ers should lis­ten to, in­vest in youth

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

On Sept. 22, 2016, three can­di­dates were elected in In­dian Head by the youths to rep­re­sent their voice to the In­dian Head Town Coun­cil. Here is why the Mayor’s Youth Ad­vi­sory Team (MYAT) is very im­por­tant to youths like my­self to have our voices be heard.

Many is­sues were de­bated dur­ing the re­cent elec­tions, but there was no dis­cus­sion about my age group: the “youth.” Does any­one in lead­er­ship re­al­ize that we need to in­vest in the el­e­men­tary school­ers, the mid­dle school­ers and the high school­ers of this coun­try? We are wor­ried that our voices are not be­ing heard by our elected lead­ers and that we do not have the op­por­tu­nity to be­come lead­ers. There­fore, MYAT can be a strong plat­form for youths.

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump said he wants to “Make Amer­ica Great Again.” Re­ally? How do you do that by ig­nor­ing my age group? I at­tend Gen­eral Small­wood Mid­dle School. Many of my class­mates could be at­tend­ing af­ter-school pro­grams that could help them build their lead­er­ship, for­eign lan­guage or STEM-re­lated skills. Sadly, most can’t at­tend. Most of them do not have the nec­es­sary sup­port struc­tures at home. Many would at­tend if their par­ents were not work­ing full-time jobs or if some­one could watch their sib­lings. Schools lack nec­es­sary fund­ing in tech­nol­ogy in­vest­ment and teacher turnover is high, prob­a­bly due to low pay.

If you want to “Make Amer­ica Great Again,” then start by in­vest­ing in our fu­ture, our ed­u­ca­tion and our lead­er­ship. I be­lieve that MYAT will make a dif­fer­ence in our com­mu­nity. We are the very first mayor’s group in In­dian Head, in fact in all of Mary­land. Dur­ing monthly meet­ings, Mayor of In­dian Head Bran­don Paulin and Vice Mayor Ron Si­toula en­cour­age youths to speak up and seize lead­er­ship roles. We meet once a month and dis­cuss the town is­sues that af­fect youths. They may not be able to fix all the is­sues, but our voices are surely be­ing heard.

We must ex­pand this pro­gram across Charles County. We en­cour­age all of the stu­dents in Mary­land to start teams like ours in their re­spec­tive com­mu­ni­ties and make their voices heard to elected of­fi­cials. The fu­ture of this na­tion rests on our shoul­ders. Elected lead­ers must in­vest in us, to­gether we can “Make Amer­ica Great Again.” Kritika Oli, In­dian Head

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