Council way to advocate for youth

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The Waitaki District Youth Council tends to fly under the radar, something chairwoman Amy Hunter is keen to see change.

The youth council acts as a voice for young people in the district and is comprised of a group of young Waitakians aged from 12 to 24.

As part of its role in the community, the youth council advises the Waitaki District Council and advocates for youth interests in local government decisions, identifies youth-related issues and opportunities, makes submissions to local and central government, organises or supports youth-oriented events, and supports initiatives that encourage young people to get involved in community events.

Amy, a 17-year-old year 13 pupil at St Kevin’s College, has been on the youth council since 2015 and chairwoman since early this year.

She said what attracted her to the youth council was the chance to advocate for young people in the Waitaki community.

“I saw the opportunity to get out there in the community and give something back and it was a chance to work on my leadership skills, and get to meet some great people as well.

“From my point of view, I like getting to know how the council works and what they are doing the community, and some of the formal procedures.

“When you put on an event, you don’t just put it on – there is a lot of work that goes into it – and to see people come along and enjoy it is pretty cool.”

Amy enjoyed working with her fellow youth councillors and Waitaki district councillors.

A Waitaki district councillor sat in on each youth council meeting, which Amy said was beneficial for everyone as they got to know the district’s elected representatives and the inner workings of the council better.

The meetings are structured in a similar fashion to regular council meetings with agenda items covered and minutes taken, and reports on activities submitted to the full council.

Sub-committees organise youth council events for the community to attend. Those have included events such as outdoor movie nights, a youth forum, quiz nights and a Christmas window display competition.

“Coming up very shortly, we’ve got more movie nights – it’s a unique event,” Amy said.

She said the results of the youth forum, which gave young people the chance to share ideas about what would make the district a better place for them to live in, were being collated.

The youth council played an important role in the community, she said.

“You can bring the community together and make sure everyone is involved, which is really cool.”

Asked if she could see herself sitting around the full council table in the future, she was undecided.

“I’ll think about it.”