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Airdrie youth learn how they can get involved in community

By: Matt Durnan

  |  Posted: Thursday, Dec 12, 2013 10:33 am

Andrew Phung, of Youth Central, speaks with a group of Airdrie youth during an input session held at City Hall on Dec. 10.
Andrew Phung, of Youth Central, speaks with a group of Airdrie youth during an input session held at City Hall on Dec. 10.
MATT DURNAN/Rocky View Publishing

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A group of 11 local youth gathered at City Hall on Dec. 10 to offer input on how their demographic can affect change in Airdrie.

The meeting was arranged by Robbie White, airdrie community developer for youth and coordinator of the Hyjinx Youth Council, in order to gauge what can be done to expand the function of the youth group.

Hyjinx was formed in 2005 with the goal to empower youth in Airdrie, to plan events for Airdrie youth and to take part in the community by working together to deal with issues that affect youth.

In its current capacity, the youth council is made up mainly of Grade 12 students from George McDougall High School, White feels the council could be doing more and expanding its horizons.

“We’d like to be able to have the opinions of kids from all different ages from all different schools around Airdrie,” said White.

“With most of our Grade 12 students graduating, we’d like to have the younger kids involved so that the program becomes self-sustaining.”

Students from grades 7 to 12 were invited out to City Hall for White to get an idea of what type of interest is out there among youth.

“The kids here tonight were either entrants in the Mayor for a Day contest, or were recommended to us by their teachers,” said White.

“This wasn’t us saying, ‘hey come sign up.’”

White invited his former co-worker Andrew Phung to facilitate the meeting. Phung works for Youth Central in Calgary, a non-profit organization that works to get youth involved in their community.

“Robbie (White) came to me and told me about the Hyjinx Youth Council and that he felt they could be doing more,” said Phung.

“I just wanted to brainstorm with these kids and show them that they can get engaged in their community and they can make a very real difference.”

Mayor Peter Brown, along with Alderman Candice Kolson and Alderman Darrell Belyk attended the meeting. Brown addressed those in attendance, echoing many of Phung’s points.

“My door is always open to you guys, if you have questions or concerns, write me or come on over to City Hall,” said Brown.

Phung was impressed with Brown’s attitude and the unique opportunity that Airdrie’s youth have.

“You’ve got the people in power here telling the youth that their doors are open and that the opportunity is there for them to have their voice heard,” said Phung.

“You have a group of seven people representing 50,000, you don’t get that type of representation in a larger centre.”

Current Hyjinx member Donivan Ryan attended the meeting.

The Grade 12 student said he was optimistic about the turn out and the future of the youth council.

“I’m confident in the group that was here tonight, I think this was a good eye opener for some people and it will get some of them motivated to get involved,” said Ryan.

“There has been a bit of a disconnect between Hyjinx and Airdrie City council in the past, so hopefully by broadening our representation it will better serve us and how our youth are represented at a council level.”

Local youth ages 13 to 18 who are interested in getting involved with the Hyjinx Youth Council can contact Robbie White at 403-948-8800.


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