YOUTH VOICE: Forum gives youth a voice

A recent youth summit hosted by Simon Fraser University drew students as young as 14 years old.

While most high school and university students might be sleeping in on a Saturday morning, this was not the case for youth attending SFU Public Square’s Our Future Our Voice youth forum last month.

These are people for whom economic issues were simply too important to ignore.

The Sept. 28 forum kicked off the Public Square’s 2013 Community Summit and allowed students to contribute to the discussion on B.C.’s economic future.

Students as young as 14 and from as far as Salt Spring Island were eager to express their opinions.

It is often said that youth are apathetic about politics. Certainly, concerns like low youth-voter turnout are valid. Nevertheless, the forum proves we need to facilitate conversations with Generation Y in a manner that combines technology, interactivity and actual conversation in a unique manner – to imbue in youth the importance of civic engagement.

Using solely traditional ways of communicating important issues do not truly engage students. Experimentation of communication methods is vital if important community issues are to remain relevant to students in a fast-paced world where technology abounds.

The youth forum allowed for a combination of social-media elements, political guests from all levels of government and a chance for students to express their voice.

What was truly remarkable to see was the intensity of tough questions that students asked of the invited elected officials. Topics included the liquefied natural gas (LNG) proposal and its effects on the environment and economy. Other questions discussed by the invited politicians related to child poverty, employment, teaching and trades.

Behind the panelist of decision makers ran a live Twitter feed, which allowed students to comment on and discuss the topics in real time.

As we move into a world where we will inevitably become even more connected through the continued growth of technology, it is important for us to realize the power of live forums cannot be underestimated in serving as models for community engagement.

The basis of a healthy and vibrant democracy rests in the participation of its citizens.

To ensure the next generation of Canadians are able to carry on our democracy, it is important to not just express our viewpoints in online comments, but also meet with likeminded individuals who want to see reforms on pressing issues.

Furthermore, in order to tackle larger concerns related to low voter turnout and general political disconnect, we must build the gateway that will allow for these goals to be met.

Public discourse is at the heart of any successful democracy. Community forums are a starting point for youth to engage or re-engage with issues related to the economy, healthcare and education.

Japreet Lehal writes monthly for Peace Arch News on youth issues.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP looking for ‘distraction theft’ suspect

Suspect allegedly tried to swipe a man’s necklace while giving him a hug

Person found dead after apartment fire in White Rock

Crews called to Foster Street complex at 7:30 a.m. Monday

Tour de White Rock cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

Annual cycling races were originally scheduled for July 18-19

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

April 6: Thousands apply for emergency response benefit on opening day of program

Mark Taylor’s hockey life: A ‘Cyclone’ for grandpa, pro days in NHL and new gig as DHA coach

Retail store operator embraces the role of coaching female hockey players

As 240K apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Easter Bunny not a COVID-19 carrier, allowed to do drop offs

World Health Organization grants permission to Bunny as he cannot transfer the virus

COVID-19 world update: 1,000 cases hit U.S. military; Good news in Spain, Portugal

Comprehensive collection of coronavirus news from around the world

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open this week

Most Read

l -->