With the municipal election coming up this Saturday, November 15, Rossland’s Youth Action Network (YAN) wanted to encourage the city’s adolescents to develop their understanding of local politics, form opinions and have a voice. Each Wednesday since October 15, students have been meeting at the Seven Summits Centre for Learning to discuss topics of importance to them. “Just because you cannot vote, doesn’t mean you can’t have a say and influence local politics,” was the not-for-profit group’s catch line.
Mike Kent, director of YAN approached past debate coach and Rossland Secondary School’s Teacher-Librarian, Nicola Kuhn to facilitate and lead the discussion. Many of the group’s conversations centered on a viable, public education for Kindergarten to year 12 in Rossland. An additional topic was the issues surrounding recreation where students and their families want to see a change in the regional relations between municipalities and a review of the fee structure for residents of Rossland. “A lot of Rossland’s youth are involved in extra activities held in Trail, and are looking for equitable fee programs.” says Ms. Kuhn.
Thanks to these sessions participants are now up to speed and savvy on studying available information in regards to the candidates running for election.
“We spent time reading the candidates’ Facebook pages, news articles and interviews to get a sense of their platforms. From there, we came up with a series of questions, that students asked at the all candidates meeting held for youth at Seven Summits Center for Learning,” Nicola explains.
After several meetings, the group decided that one of the most powerful ways they could make change was to encourage citizens of Rossland to exercise their right to vote.
“We had many youth come out and make buttons,” explains Nicola.
In 90 minutes the group made 220 buttons. In an effort to increase voter turnout, YAN participants Aven Cosbey and Connor Dunham put this initiative into action. They handed out buttons at the entrance to a local grocery store, interviewing and videoing anyone willing to tell them if they were voting and why or why not.
For the final Youth Make Change meeting held Wednesday 5 November, students put forth their opinions from the all candidates session and conversed as to whom they would vote for if they were eligible. The results of the 2014 municipal election will provide an insight into how closely the youth opinions align to that of their elders