It’s not often teenagers get an opportunity to directly influence their provincial government’s direction. They can’t vote until the age of 18 and often resort to writing letters and protesting to have their voices heard.
But in the Beaches-East York riding they do have a voice, and a strong one at that.
Every month local MP Matthew Kellway hosts a Youth Advisory meeting at his constituency office on Main Street. Local youth are welcome to participate in various discussions about the country’s future. Issues such as foreign policy, trade and social programs are discussed and participants are encouraged to share their ideas and solutions.
“This program is recognizing that the decisions we make as Members of Parliament, and all elected officials, will impact these kids for years to come,” said Kellway. “I’m hoping that through the course of this process…they’ll develop their ideas about what they can do to build a country here they’re happy with.”
During the group’s last meeting on Dec. 18, groups of issues were sorted and grouped into a few categories. The teens involved will discuss and analyse each category in future meetings. One of the goals is to develop a ‘Vision Document’ which will be a result of the monthly discussions.
“I think it’s good to have these conversations with people because a lot of [youth] don’t pay attention to what’s going on around us,” said Emily Kellway, a grade 10 student at Malvern Collegiate.
High school students may receive community service hours or a credit for participating.
The Youth Advisory is set to meet again on Feb. 22 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Anyone interested in participating should call Kellway’s constituency office at 416-467-0860 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for video coverage of the Youth Advisory meeting.