Never too young to get involved

Published 7:51 pm Saturday, September 5, 2009

It’s easy for teenagers to feel left out. They can’t vote. They are excluded form debate about most important issues, whether at home, in their community or at the national level. The first thought of many adults is that teens just don’t know enough or have enough experience to make constructive contributions to the conversation.

It’s a situation that most adults can probably remember hating when they were teens themselves. And still, we all understand and acknowledge that there is a gulf between the wisdom of a 14-year-old and that of a 64-year-old — or even a 24-year-old. We naturally limit the responsibilities of the 14-year-old because of his lack of maturity.

But a program in Suffolk also acknowledges that teens need some voice in their city’s affairs if the city is to be truly responsive to their wants and needs. The Youth Advisory Council, which is chartered under the city’s Office on Youth, represents, in the words of Suffolk spokeswoman Debbie George, “a wonderful opportunity for youth to get involved at an early age and have their voices heard and have their opinions listened to. They can actually be able to make a difference in what’s going on in the city.”

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Members of the Youth Advisory Council have been on hand at nearly all of the city’s big events this year, handing out information about opportunities for children and teens in Suffolk and generally making sure that those attending the events left with a positive impression of Suffolk’s youth.

If these driven young leaders represent the future of Suffolk, the city will be in great hands one day.

If you know of a middle-school or high-school student in Suffolk who has a grade point average of at least 2.0 and who is interested in community service through active membership in the Youth Advisory Council, pick up an application and have her fill it out. They’re available at the East Suffolk Recreation Center, located at 138 S. 6th St. or by calling 514-4503.