Updated: Oct 29, 2018
I’m a busy parent and I work as a Special Education paraeducator for Fairfield-Suisun Unified School district, and recently I had the pleasure of watching civic engagement at work. Mind you, it is not easy to step out from my existence as busy mom and engage in brainstorming solutions to complex societal issues, and on a Saturday afternoon, no less! But in this political climate it has become increasingly urgent that I do so. Those who believe that today’s young people are not interested in matters of politics and policy making would do themselves a great service by attending a Solano Youth Voices Council Forum. These Council Members, who came together with the sole purpose of bettering the lives of fellow young people in Solano County asked their peers what their most pressing concerns were and built a policy platform to address the top three: Mental Health, Bullying, and Homelessness. The forum introduced us to their ideas on how to tackle these problems through our school system, and attendees were asked to engage in and provide feedback on solutions they had developed, and help them build a network of community allies that would assist in accomplishing their objectives. I was impressed with how thorough their research and outreach was; how they used their personal experiences to inform this work and the direction it would go. Above all, these Council Members were confident and hopeful that their voices and the voices of whom they represent will make a difference in their community.
Because of this experience, I, too, have hope that their infectious enthusiasm for civic change becomes a community-wide movement as they continue to build upon ideas and relationships established at this initial meet. As one who works with young people and is a parent to two teenaged boys, I have a vested interest in advocating for viable solutions to these issues as well. As adult allies, not only can we bear witness and support the change that is happening on the ground level with these young people, we can certainly begin to feel confident that the future is in good hands.