Aldermen support new look for youth council
By: Matt Durnan
| Posted: Thursday, May 08, 2014 10:48 am
The Hyjinx Youth Council will be taking on a new name and structure as Airdrie City council gave them a vote of support on May 5.
Airdrie’s youth council will now be called the Airdrie Board of Youth Affairs (ABYA) as Airdrie City council voted in favour of the name change and new terms of reference.
Youth Coordinator Robbie White, along with ABYA members Quinn Hegg and Caitlin Prater-Haacke made a presentation to council on May 5, outlining some of the group’s history and direction moving forward.
“The Hyjinx Youth Council was formed in 2005, and with that name it was a bit more fun, but we’re looking to move into a more formal structure,” said White.
“We will be moving to an advisory body to City council as there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for youth to impact decisions made at the council level.”
White explained the responsibility will be put on the members of the youth council to set their agendas in order to serve as a bridge from the city’s youth to council.
A mentorship system has also been put in place with ABYA, whose membership age range will be from 11 years old to 18, with an option for existing members to stay on until they are 24 years old to act as mentors for the younger members. There are five members in the current structure including Hegg and Prater-Haacke.
The council is looking to have at least seven members with executive positions that will include a chair and vice chair, along with a City council liaison, a public relations coordinator and a membership coordinator.
Hegg, who is the daughter of Alderman Kelly Hegg, spoke about the importance of the youth council and her hopes for it in the future.
“Youth need to be involved in decision making, especially when it comes to issues that directly impact us,” said Hegg. “We should be consulted and have our voices heard.”
White explained that there will be opportunity for ABYA executive members to sit in on City committee meetings as non-voting members in order to stay informed on what’s happening around the city and also encouraged council to take a role in bringing issues concerning youth to ABYA directly.
Alderman Allan Hunter applauded the work of Hegg and Prater-Haacke.
“I really commend you guys for having the courage to step forward and get involved and wanting to make a difference,” said Hunter.
Alderman Kelly Hegg echoed Hunter’s sentiments.
“There’s a saying that youth are our future, but I believe that youth are our right now,” said Hegg. “It’s important for them to have their say and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work with you guys.”
Mayor Peter Brown was also supportive, commending the girls for coming to council to have their voices heard.
“I love this initiative and I’m really excited to see where you guys can take this,” said Brown.
For more information on ABYA and how to get involved, contact Robbie White at the City of Airdrie at 403-948-8800.