Hamilton teens, local elected officials discuss youth-related issues

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton hosted its first-ever elected official town hall with some of its teenage members.

Some members of Hamilton City Council and Ohio Rep. Sara Carruthers participated in last week’s roundtable discussion where the teenagers wanted to know more about what they hoped for the community, and how to get teens involved.

Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller said he wants the city to be “world-class,” which is also a pillar of the Boys and Girls Clubs. He added the other two pillars are also goals of the city, as the mayor “want(s) us to be citizens who care about others, and life-enriching.”

“You’re going through that right now, and hopefully, we are as public servants,” he told the teens. “All of us work together in various partnerships to make Hamilton be the best city it can be. If our city reaches full potential, and if you folks reach your full potential, man we’re going places.”

Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton Executive Director Tommy John said his goal is to provide quality after-school programs for all kids, and not just some kids. He left teaching to work to help provide after-school care for kids “because what happens after school is just as important, and oftentimes more important, than what happens in school.”

“After school is for all kids, and I hope that sometime in my lifetime, one of my dreams, just like there’s public school, there’s public childcare, and there’s no cost and it’s woven into the budgets of the state and it’s looked at and respected as highly as education during the day,” he said.

Council member Joel Lauer said he couldn’t imagine growing up anywhere better than Hamilton, but when he was a kid, he and his friends would be out until the street lights came on in the summer. As times have changed, where technology has become a bigger part of a child’s life (as well as an adult’s life), they need more activities for the youth.

“Teens are our most challenging age group, in my opinion, because there’s not a lot of things, and some of it is because times have changed,” said Lauer, a Hamilton teacher and Badin assistant football coach. “You guys are way smarter than any of us up here when it comes to technology. I have many hopes. That’s why I teach, that’s why I coach ... I want is I want Hamilton to be the greatest place, in all 17 neighborhoods, to grow up.”

Demarion Samples, a 17-year-old from Badin High School, said the 90-minute forum gave him the confidence to make a difference.

“I think hearing feedback from our councilman, and our mayor, and other people here to represent our community is good,” he said, adding that he’s hopeful there can be ways to collaborate and develop ideas “and help teens in the future.”

Whatever Samples does in the future, he said one thing will be to give back, and help kids “because I’ve always had that push from my parents, and they always wanted the best for me and giving me everything I need to succeed.”

Though the roundtable didn’t get to all the planned questions, Carrurthers was intrigued by one question: What are some ways teens can get involved in local government?

“Help knock on doors,” she said, adding there’s some kind of election every year, from odd-year elections for city council to county and state elections in the even years.

“If there’s something you feel passionate about, all you have to do is poll one of us, and say, ‘Hey, I’d like to knock doors for you,” she said, or anyone running for an office, she added. “It is a good way to learn and hang out with some other people your age or older and learn what it’s like to be in politics.”

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