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City youths get call to serve

Mayor Robert Correia said beginning in September, a call will go out to find youths who are willing to serve on all city boards, committees and commissions, including the City Council and School Committee. The youths will be able to voice opinions but will not have a vote.

“The youth have stepped up in the community and they need the opportunity to be participants in the process,” Correia said.

He said that after students return to school in September he will seek a list of those interested “in learning and participating in government.”

“We should invite them to sit at the table,” Correia said. “They won’t have a vote, but at least they will have the right to be there, so that when they take a seat at the table as adults they’ll understand the process.”

The welcoming of youths onto boards and committees comes as a group of young people have spent the past week presenting a “Youth Bill of Rights” to the School Committee and City Council. The document calls on city leaders to give youths an active voice in the community and draw more attention to issues such as transportation needs, education and creating a healthy environment.

Seventeen-year-old Jennifer Benjamin said she is interested in the prospect of sitting with the School Committee or City Council in an effort to ensure the view of youths is understood.

“I think it will be good to give young people the opportunity to have more of a say in their lives,” Benjamin said. “These boards make a lot of decisions that affect young people, and it will be good to have an input on the decisions that affect our lives so much.”

Youth Services Director Christian McCloskey said the prospect of putting youths on city boards is an exciting first step.

“More important, it’s not just them sitting on a committee but being active participants and part of the solution,” McCloskey said. “The youth should be seen as assets in the community and resources and not just there when a community service project comes up and someone says ‘let’s get the kids to do it.’”

Also interested in serving is Jasiel Correia II, who was selected as the city’s youth of the year in March.

City youths looking to get on board with city government may be about to get their wish, literally.

While he is heading to Providence College in the fall to study political science, Jasiel Correia said he would like to sit on a board that would fit into his schedule.

“I think this is a great first step,” Jasiel Correia said. “Giving youth the ability to serve, learn what’s going on and how things become law or change in Fall River is very important.”

The 17-year-old, who is not related to the mayor, said allowing youth to sit on boards will allow them to see how the political world works and in turn teach them for future duties.

“I understand we don’t have a vote, but just serving and representing the city’s youth is an honor,” Jasiel Correia said. “This is also really a type of community service that will allow youths to give back to Fall River.”

E-mail Will Richmond at wrichmond@heraldnews.com.

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Posted in: News by SoulRiser on July 18, 2009 @ 11:09 AM

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