Youth in the East Lansing area will now have the opportunity for their opinions and ideas to be heard through the Mayor’s Youth Commission this November.
The commission is currently accepting applications and nine applicants will be chosen. Applications are open for youth between the ages of 14-18, who are East Lansing residents or attend school in the district. East Lansing Mayor Ron Bacon and Mayor Pro Tempore Jessy Gregg will be the head of the interview process.
Bacon and Gregg have been working for years to bring the idea of the Mayor’s Youth Commission to life.
“This is something that Mayor Bacon and I have been kind of chatting about for a couple of years now,” Gregg said. “It does not actually exist at the moment, what it will be is kind of determined by people who are participating in it. What we envision, what we are hoping for is essentially another board similar to our other volunteer boards that we have within the city.”
Gregg said when in the process of choosing candidates she wants them to know that the commission is a serious commitment.
“We just to make sure they understand the time commitment and some of the other things might be expected of them as part of the commission,” she said. “This is going to be a working commission, it’s not a mock trail team. We want them to have a hand in creating actual polices.”
Biology and psychology senior Nupur Huria, the co-facilitator of Michigan Youth Racial Equity Council said in a statement form The State News that having diversity in the candidates selected is important.
“A lot of people believe that bigger scale policy changes and advocacy is not always attainable but breaking it down into smaller goals and aligning yourself with groups and like-minded voices… really makes it possible in my opinion,” Huria said.
Gregg said the goal of the commission is to get the youths feedback and participation in creating and preserving new spaces for their use.
“The hope is that they can kind of have an active participation in programming the spaces that we have around town that are specific for youth such as library spaces,” Gregg said. “We hope to involve the Parks and Recreation Department as part of places that we try to create programs for the youth. So, this will be a chance for them to give us direct feedback and have a part of planning what that looks like.”
Gregg said the commission will give the youth an opportunity to voice their own opinions.
“I think obviously parents and adults within the community have a lot of concerns for the youth as far as safety, education and those kind of things,” Gregg said. “I think that leads to a situation where we are not necessarily engaging with people directly, but we are kind of making decisions about what is best for them. Logically it would then make sense to go ask the people you are trying to engage how they want to be engaged.”
“I think it’s definitely time to engage the youth,” Bacon said in a printed story about the commission from WKAR Public Media. “We’re not really moving in lockstep with their challenges, or even their concerns.”