Youth Council for Youth Issues in Vermont

By Grace W., a member of Vermont Afterschool’s youth leadership council

For the past few months I have been working with other youth from across Vermont to get a bill set up and hopefully passed in 2021. What is the bill for you may ask? Well, we believe that youth should have a voice in the issues that affect them! With this bill, the state legislature of Vermont would be required to turn to this youth council for opinions on what should happen with bills that would directly (and/or possibly indirectly) affect them. This would also be a state funded group, so we could use the money for many things from stipends for our members to possibly starting more groups or clubs for the youth of Vermont.

During our meetings, we had many discussions about many details and what should or should not be a part of the council. We had to come up with a name (and change it), we needed to know how would we select youth for this council, should we include stipends, what topics do we want to put a lot of focus on, what should our age range be, and many more topics were discussed.

There was a lot of voting and going back and forth through discussions about what should or should not be part of the group. We eventually all decided that youth who wanted to be a part of the council would apply via application instead of being voted into the position. We also decided that we would require an annual meeting with the governor for an annual report. Our ideal number of members would be 20-30 youth, with at least one from each county. We also decided on committees the council would have for different issues, and we have 7 committees. They are Youth Voice, Education, Anti-Racism, Climate Change, Youth Mental Health, Executive, and Ad Hoc Committees. The council would meet monthly, both in-person and/or online (currently the meetings are happening online because of COVID-19).

We really want to hear what every youth has to say and because not every youth can be on the council, we would send out public forums 3 or 4 times a year to get input from youth across the state who are not in the group. We would also collect input through public surveys and polls. We do not want other youth who are not in the group to be shut out from what we are doing, one of our goals is to share information by keeping youth around the state up-to-date on what the council is up to. Not only would we be spreading information the traditional way (newsletters, posters, emails, etc) but we also plan on utilizing social media to our advantage to spread the word.

We want all the youth who want to be a part of the council to be able to join, that is why one of our goals is to have enough money in our budget to provide tech support and transportation to those who need it. Training is also important for all the members of the council, we plan to provide training in public speaking, government operations, meeting etiquette, and leadership.

We recently got great feedback from some legislatures and other people who try to help pass bills people are passionate about. We made some changes and are still deciding on some details, but we have come a long way from where we were at our first meeting. I really hope you learned a lot about our group from this and I will make posts updating you all on the progress of it and the bill. If people could start talking about this and hyping it up, that would be amazing. One of my personal hopes is that other states will look at this Vermont Council as an example to follow.

Until next time, Grace 🙂

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