Towns first youth council takes office

Darrell Cole
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AMHERST - Amherst's young people now have a voice with the creation of the town's first youth advisory council.

Members of the youth council took their oaths of office during a ceremony at joint meeting with Amherst town council on Tuesday and immediately peppered members of council with a number of questions.

"It's important for the youth to have a voice within the town and this council gives us that opportunity," youth council chair Zac Black said. "We never really a voice with the town before and no one seemed to be listening when we did have ideas."

Black, a 15-year-old Grade 10 student at Amherst Regional High School, first heard of the youth council when representatives from the town met with the school's students council several months ago.

While he hopes to eventually study to be a doctor, Black said serving on the youth council will give him experience working in the community and he's looking forward to getting ideas from his fellow students and bringing them to the council.

Chris Baxter, who is in Grade 9 at ARHS, feels young people need to be heard.

"We have a lot of good ideas," said Baxter. "I wanted to be part of the political process of town council and get the youth's ideas heard to make Cumberland County a better place for young people."

Baxter said the youth council will gather ideas and input from the schools and bring them to their meetings. Through their council liaison, in this case Mayor Rob Small, their thoughts and ideas will be brought to town council.

As well, there will likely be quarterly joint meetings during which youth councillors can ask council direct questions.

Joining Black and Baxter on the council are Alex Stathakis, James Gaudet and Daniel Ripley from ARHS and Hannah Melanson and Chelsey Brown of E.B. Chandler Junior High.

Establishing a youth council was one of several priorities identified by town council early in 2009.

"The public said they wanted a youth advisory council. During the 2008 election campaign, people said there were a number of things they wanted to see but there was no voice for youth," the mayor said. "We questioned what do youth want and how can we help our youth, so we created this youth advisory council to accomplish that."

Small sees the youth council bringing forward ideas from youth on issues that are important to them, adding the first joint meeting saw several important issues brought forward including discussions on the skateboard park, Dickey Park's redevelopment and holding a number of youth events within the community.

Organizations: Amherst Regional High School, Amherst town council

Geographic location: Cumberland County, Dickey Park

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Recent comments

  • Jenny
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Know it all... that comment is intended to be a joke, correctt? How ignorant, you must be a Neanderthal to truthfully feel that way. the intellectuals out there such as Mayor Small that can comprehend why this is such a wonderful and positive thing for our town, congratulations! A great step forward in making this town a community for all ages. Other municipalities should do the same! Another fresh idea, thank you!

  • Erika
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    I love you Zac!! You are my hero :)

    Love your favorite cousin

  • askhim
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    People like know it all make me sick. How can you be like that? Teenagers have the right to speak there minds and give ideas as to what goes on in Amherst, just as well as anyone else. They live here too.

    These young men and women seem to be brightminded and know that they can help make something come alive here for their peers.

    This is exactly what the youth of Amherst needs. There is nothing for them to do in this town except for maybe going to the movies every once in a while. But as most people know, it is not cheap to go to the movies or go to a hockey game.

    I wish all the best of luck to these FINE young people and hope that their ideas and wishes come true.

  • l
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    I think it is wonderful how Mayor Small is moving forward with the youth. Hat off to all who are involved. The youth need to be heard and they are our future. Know it all needs to get into the know and move forward! Thankfully not everyone has such a negative attitude as this know it all !!

  • Big Brother 1984
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    This sounds very promising and hopefully other surrounding towns will move to adopt similar youth council members. This is about having members of an age group out there bring the contemporary views and issues that young people face to the fore so we as adults within our towns can relate to and hopefully address and work to solve those issues. For some time now, many parents have simply pushed their children out the door and into the streets to become the problem of the rest of us. If we as adults can support and reconnect with these kids, we can instill in them a sense of pride and accomplishment that they may not be receiving at home, as well as encourage and further develop the confidence of youths that currently wish to get involved in the affairs of their local municioality.
    With the ever-increasing knowledge base these young people have in areas of technology and modern life, we cannot continue to ignore the fact that they are extremely intelligent and carry good ideas. These are not the kids of days gone by. The farms are gone, the mines are ever closing and we have moved on from the simple cart & buggy. Getting kids to simply do traditional chores is not gonna cut it anymore. These young people are advanced in their thinking. Watch any teen at a computer or electronic device, and you will witness their uncanny ability to use technology at its best. Networking among this age group is stunning. If you want an idea put out there so it gets noticed, ask a teen for their ideas on how to do it. I believe that by having these kids involved in their communities to gather input from their age group and then relay that information back to our adults and then work with them to resolve ongoing concerns will be an eye-opening experience and learning lesson for the older members of our community. I am looking forward to seeing the improvements this move will bring. I only hope it is not a token gesture on the part of town counciland these kids really do get the opportunity to actively have an influence on the improvement of their community.

  • know it all
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    This is a complete joke , kids telling adults what they want - and probably getting it , Lets tear the jail down and build a gang bang centre where the kids can meet nightly after midnight and plan what section of town to vandalize and rob vehicles - another great job Mr. Small duh

  • Odie
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I disagree with Steve. Absolutely nothing wrong with the comments of Murray Scott being included at the end of the story. The writer could have included comments from a couple of guys at the local coffee shop regarding their thoughts on the issue, too, if he had wanted, but most certainly the statements on the topic from a local provincial government rep are appropriate here.

  • Peter
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    To Know It All:
    You must be getting tired of hearing this -but at the risk of being repetitive...

  • Robert
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    The Youth Council is a brilliant idea. It boggles the mind how some people can find something bad to say about such a positive initiative.

  • Odie
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Sorry, my earlier comment was supposed to appear in the story about the potential CUPE strike. Technological difficulties......

  • Larry
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Amerstonian writes: The narrow minded view of know it al from ns shows what really is wrong wiht the thinking of some in this province and I think the youth will provide some insight into issues that need to addressed in our community and others. Good luck to the youth members and good idea Mr. Small

  • amherstguy
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Thankfully not everyone shares know it all's opinion. Although his/her comments do entertain us, it is this type of thinking that helps Amherst celebrate Victorian everything very easy. Many are still trying to live in the Victorian age. I am so happy that Mr. Small has identified the need to move on and getting input from our youth is so good. Maybe we can take some of their suggestions, utilize them , and move out of the stone age.

    Know very little (it all), keep it up, you do make me laugh. Although I do feel sorry that you are still so regressed.

  • Another 2 Cents
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    This is wonderful!

    As someone who works very closely with youth in our town, I can attest to the quality of these individuals.

    They will no doubt consult their peers and bring thier concerns to the Town. They will help make this community a better palce to live in and WANT to live in as adults.

    These youth want to make a difference because the status quo is not doing it for them.

    There will always be some bad apples but the vast majority of youth in Amherst are really great kids.

    I guess we know who the bad apple is here in these posts, hey know it all!

  • not-so young voice
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Personally I think that this is a great idea. I think that the youth council would be a wonderful opportunity for young people to get involved in their community and take pride in their community. There is nothing at all for young people to do in this town and hopefully this will put an end to that. Let's give our youth something productive to do. Know-it all quite frankly you disgust me with your ignorant remarks. It just goes to show how closed-minded you are. Zac Black is a great role-model for younger children and for his peers. He's involved in sports, has an after school job is clearly very well spoken, and is an excellent student. The mere suggestion that someone like Black would plot to ruin the town is simply ridiculous. And to blame all of the crimes in this town on young people? Take a look uptown at the druken people stumbling around at 10:00 in the morning, commiting crimes to get their next bottle or rock or line or whatever... these people are mostly in their 40's not 15 or 16. Good luck to you Zack and the rest of the youth council.