Mayors, councillors, youth workers and support staff are getting ready to sit down with West Kelowna youth to discuss adolescent issues that are often overlooked.
The first ever West Kelowna Mayor’s Youth Forum will kick off at Mount Boucherie Secondary School on Friday at 7:15 a.m.
The roundtable discussion will be centred around four main ideas: Youth safety and security, youth community programs and activities, communication to youth and youth recognition.
“Last spring a group of students called Student Voice, which is basically the student council at Mount Boucherie, did a survey about the level of happiness (students) had with activities and programs that were available to them on the Westside,” said Irene Maier, department head of student leadership at Mount Boucherie Secondary School.
“They surveyed all the students, came up with the stats and divided it between Westbank First Nation, West Kelowna and Peachland. They did a presentation to all three councils and indicated what things they felt would be helpful as future action to work towards resolving some of their concerns.”
West Kelowna council was intrigued by the students’ presentation.
After hearing from the youth, the district suggested a youth forum would be a good way for leaders to engage with youth, hear their opinions on different subjects and debate future action that would benefit youth in the community.
Each roundtable will be made up of eight people—three adults and five youth.
Members of Peachland and West Kelowna council, youth workers and support staff who work with youth will be the adults who attend the roundtable discussions. Middle and secondary school students will be distributed among the tables to represent various student groups in different schools.
The ideas to be discussed were derived from both youth and elected officials.
“(Youth safety and security) was predominately youth driven. In terms of youth programs and activities, councils want to (talk about) that because they want to know if the current programs they are offering are appropriate or if they need to be enhanced,” said Maier.
“Communication to youth would be a concern on both sides. (Adults) are feeling that youth are not engaged and youth are feeling that they’re not being communicated to. Youth recognition was one specifically that councils wanted to bring forward in terms of how they could recognize positive contributions of youth in the community.”
Maier said that this event will be beneficial for everyone involved.
“There will actually be youth talking to people who determine funding and determine what kind of programs are created for them. It will establish a communication link between youth and key members of the community.”
Because it’s brand new, Maier isn’t sure what shape the event will take.
“I hear a lot of complaints from students; they don’t like how things work. So I thought…maybe they should be taking more of an activist role on their own behalf and engaging the people that make decisions. I think it will be very interesting to see where it goes.”