I am working to create a North Quabbin Young Leaders’ Council to bring youth voices and energy into the region's youth policymaking and programming. I am developing a cadre of capable youth leaders who share a deep knowledge of the issues of concern to area youth and who possess the skills to address them by mobilizing youth and area schools, organizations and businesses to reconfigure and develop youth programs and activities. My intention is to instill a lifetime interest in community well-being and create meaningful opportunities for youth to develop skills that are transferable into all aspects of their lives.
The Council will strive to be representative of the geographic, social and demographic diversity of young people in the area. It will include youth from all nine North Quabbin towns ages 16 to 19, both in school and out. To ensure continuity of Council membership and institutional support for their activities, we propose that the Council draw its members from area schools, nonprofit organizations, and businesses. Each entity would select, by a process of nomination, a youth to serve a term on the council and appoint an adult staff member or volunteer to serve as their mentor or adviser. Membership in the Council will be 12-18 youth.
The Council itself will adopt a simple one-page charter/bylaws that will outline its purpose, mission, vision and operating principles and practices. Council meetings will be held biweekly year-round with seasonal breaks. Council members will also attend the joint monthly meetings of the North Quabbin Youth Policy Board and the Teen Outreach Program, a representative body of school and agency personnel who discuss youth issues and sometimes collaborate to implement youth programming. Council members may also represent the body at meetings and functions concerning youth that may be held in surrounding areas, such as the annual conference of the Committee Coalition for Teens, the annual legislative form organized by the Youth Services Roundtable, or the annual youth recognition day sponsored by the Franklin/Hampshire Career Center. Each youth would receive a modest stipend based on attendance for devoting at least five hours per week to Council activities. Transportation to and from all meetings and activities would be coordinated with, for example, Community Transit Services. Given geographic barriers, a dedication to openness and transparency, and a predilection to technology, the council will create and maintain a website for inter-Council communications, posting of documents, events, activities and resources, polls, discussion forum and member blogs. This will enable the Council to function effectively as well as enable the wider youth community to participate.
Council members will receive training in group formation and governance, cooperative decision-making, and conflict management. They will collectively develop a deeper understanding and knowledge of past and current youth issues, activities, events, organizations, services, funding, and youth development theory and practice. Training will be provided by the Youth Organizer (myself) and guest and peer trainers.