Perth East gives nod to new youth coun­cil

The Beacon Herald - - NEWS - GALEN SIM­MONS STAFF RE­PORTER

Fol­low­ing rec­om­men­da­tions from the town­ship’s recre­ation master plan and its Perth 4 Youth Strate­gic Plan, Perth East coun­cil is tak­ing the first steps to­ward bet­ter en­gag­ing its younger res­i­dents.

In De­cem­ber, Perth East coun­cil learned the town­ship was suc­cess­ful in its ap­pli­ca­tion for a $1,000 Youth in Ac­tion grant from the United Way Perth Huron. In the grant ap­pli­ca­tion, staff in­di­cated the funds would be used for the ini­tial start-up costs of es­tab­lish­ing a Perth East Youth Ac­tion Coun­cil.

“I got hired in June as the recre­ation and com­mu­nity devel­op­ment co-or­di­na­tor, and part of my role was to im­ple­ment the recre­ation master plan and the Perth 4 Youth Strate­gic Plan for Perth East,” said Paige Har­ring­ton. “So to de­velop a Youth Ac­tion Coun­cil was ac­tu­ally one of the goals in the Perth 4 Youth plan.

“... Be­cause we are such a ru­ral com­mu­nity, I don’t want to start the Youth Ac­tion Coun­cil with­out get­ting the youth’s in­put as to where, when, and how the Youth Ac­tion Coun­cil will be run.”

With the United Way fund­ing, Har­ring­ton said she will be vis­it­ing Perth East schools, specif­i­cally stu­dents in grades 7 and 8, and host­ing in­for­ma­tion ses­sions through­out Jan­uary to col­lect feed­back and de­ter­mine how this coun­cil will op­er­ate.

Though other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have cre­ated sim­i­lar youth coun­cils, rang­ing in mem­ber­ship from a dozen to as many as 30 young peo­ple, Har­ring­ton said she doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily want to just blindly fol­low the ex­am­ples set out by other com­mu­ni­ties, and in­stead wants this ini­tia­tive to be driven by Perth East youth from the very start.

“I’ve at­tended a lot of other youth con­fer­ences and spo­ken with other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties run­ning youth ac­tion coun­cils, so that was the first stage. … So now I’ll be go­ing to the schools and I have a small pre­sen­ta­tion of what youth coun­cils ac­tu­ally are, and I have a sur­vey to give out to the youth about the coun­cils and how they want to see them run,” Har­ring­ton said.

Ul­ti­mately, the goal of the coun­cil, which will meet monthly and func­tion much like a mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil, will be to come up with so­lu­tions to is­sues that af­fect young peo­ple in the town­ship, such as youth leav­ing Perth East be­cause they be­lieve that to be the path to a suc­cess­ful ca­reer.

“A lot of youth like liv­ing here, but one thing that was brought up in the (Perth 4 Youth) plan is they don’t feel like they’re val­ued here and they don’t feel like they have a fu­ture here,” Har­ring­ton said. “... Talk­ing to them at that (young) age to say these are the op­por­tu­ni­ties that are avail­able (lo­cally), this is what you could be do­ing through­out your high school ed­u­ca­tion, this is what you’re go­ing to have to do it if you would like to at­tend post-sec­ondary, if you would like to do an ap­pren­tice­ship.”

The coun­cil will also have the power to or­ga­nize events that might bet­ter en­gage or raise aware­ness of a spe­cific is­sue among their peers.

“The town­ship is proud to sup­port lo­cal youth to be en­gaged and in­volved with their com­mu­nity,” said Perth East Deputy Mayor Hugh McDer­mind in a press re­lease. “A Perth East Youth Ac­tion Coun­cil will give our youth lead­er­ship and devel­op­ment skills that will lead into many op­por­tu­ni­ties in their fu­tures.”

Har­ring­ton said the Youth Ac­tion Coun­cil will likely be es­tab­lished shortly af­ter the in­for­ma­tion and con­sul­ta­tion ses­sions are com­pleted by the end of Jan­uary. gsim­[email protected]­media.com

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