Listening to our city's youth
Our youth are our city's most precious resource. I believe they can add value and substance to the public discourse if they have an opportunity to speak, and if we make it a priority to really listen. I want our youth to have a direct connection to our city government. With this in mind, I have made the creation of a Youth Advisory Commission a focus since I began serving on city council.
Back in the fall of 2011, Mayor Kelley and I met at Tommy’s restaurant to discuss what my priorities were for the upcoming year. I proposed the concept of a Youth Advisory Commission based on a number of successful programs, such as those in in Milpitas, Calif. and Pinellas County, Fla. To my pleasant surprise, Mayor Kelley told me he also had the creation of a youth commission on his priority list.
Following that meeting, Cleveland Heights City Council had good, thoughtful discussions on the structure, purpose and goals of a youth commission. I discussed my ideas with Doug Heuer, Cleveland Heights-University Heights school superintendent, and Jeffrey Johnston, the director of student services, and received their enthusiastic support for this Youth Advisory Commission concept.
After the appointment of Council Member Janine Boyd last year, with her pro-youth agenda, energy and extensive background with youth issues, we were finally prepared to move forward with making this commission a reality. On Jan. 7, Cleveland Heights City Council voted 6-1 in favor of the establishment of the Cleveland Heights Youth Advisory Commission.
The commission will work to promote understanding and awareness of government among youth, encourage participation in government by youth, provide advice to council on issues affecting youth, promote communication between young people and adults within the community and work on projects that better the community.
The commission’s membership will include ten youths and three nonvoting adults. The three nonvoting adults will be a Heights High school teacher, a Cleveland Heights police officer and a Recreation Advisory Board member.
Candidates should submit a 250-word essay telling council why they are interested in serving as a Cleveland Heights Youth Commissioner. Each candidate must provide three school or community (nonfamily) references. If you know of a student in ninth, tenth or eleventh grade who you feel would make a good Cleveland Heights Youth Commissioner, please encourage him or her to complete an application. The applications are available on our city website and at Cleveland Heights City Hall. Applications can also be obtained by contacting Jeffrey Johnston or by contacting me on Facebook or via e-mail at email@example.com. The application must be submitted no later than 4 p.m. on Feb. 8.
Jason Stein is a member of Cleveland Heights City Council, a Heights High graduate and a lifelong Cleveland Heights resident. He can be reached at 440-253-9613 or firstname.lastname@example.org.