These local students want their voices heard, so here’s what they’re doing about it

The Hamilton Youth Commission had been inactive for about two years, but now has been re-established. Bringing it back is seen as an opportunity for youth to have a voice in local issues that are important to them.

The goal of the Youth Commission is to provide a responsive and proactive voice for the youth of the Hamilton community.

Counciilman Tim Naab and city workers Charla Henderson and Kristin Youngmeyer have spearheaded the effort to get the commission restored.

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“This is an opportunity for youth to secure and maintain a formal role in planning the future of the city by participating in the decision-making process for growth of the community on issues important to youth,” Henderson explained.

She added that this year, the group consists of nine Commissioners (juniors and seniors) and seven Ambassadors (sophomores and juniors).

“All students are encouraged to fully engage in planning initiatives, however, Commissioners are there to make motions and vote on decisions items, along with mentoring the Ambassadors,” Henderson said. “There is an application process, but eligibility is open to all sophomores, juniors and seniors who live and attend school within the city of Hamilton.”

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What will make this version of the Youth Commission successful surrounds around the focus of the organization.

“Our focus is on letting it be student led. Our goal is not to tell the youth what they should prioritize, but to support them in the initiatives that they feel are important. The Youth Commission is a group of youth all over the city to look to represent them, to voice their concerns or their hopes for Hamilton,” Henderson noted.

Elias Tzoc, a junior at Hamilton High School and the Hamilton Youth Commission’s vice-chair, is looking forward to serving on the Commission.

“After all that has been going in the U.S., there has definitely been a move to get more and more youth involved at all levels of government and civic initiatives. Hamilton is following this pattern and with the restart of the Commission, I’m glad that now we have a direct voice and direct influence on local projects,” he explained. ” I think that typically people see involved youth as just volunteers but the Commission has given us a chance to actually lead our own initiatives of what we want to do like creating a needle-drop off box.”

He added, “I really want us to also become a semi-advisory group to the actual City Council, in order to give them a direct and mature response from Hamilton’s youth. No matter what, we’ve been very successful so far and I want to continue that to keep the Commission going strong next year.”

Tanner Hamblin, a sophomore at Hamilton High School and an Ambassador on the Hamilton Youth Commission, feels that civic involvement is a key role in society, especially in the role of local government. He has also volunteered more than 1,000 hours in the past three year at Fort Hamilton Hospital.

“As a member of the Community Outreach Committee on the Hamilton Youth Commission, I show a strong passion for reaching out to other businesses and local leaders throughout Hamilton. Personally, I believe that volunteering, and getting involved in the community is an important life skill to have,” he said.

Youngmeyer said students plan on meeting next Monday at Hamilton High School and it will be an opportunity to get the ball rolling for the re-established board.

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