With a desire to empower youth, build advocacy, and streamline communication with the City, two Everett High School students have led the development of the Everett Youth Initiative Council.
At the last meeting of the Everett City Council on April 26 the founders, Samaga Pokharel, a junior, and Kien Lau, a sophomore, expressed that their mission will be to “spark a new generation’s initiative, create a direct and non-partisan platform which would allow the emerging adults of Everett from all different backgrounds to vocalize for themselves, their peers, and families, while also getting the opportunity to become better leaders of tomorrow and experience the local government system at a fundamental level.”
Samaga and Kien have dedicated months into making this a reality through several meetings with city councilors and members of the administration.
“We started our journey through the local government to create a Youth Council which has been a far off dream in late October, 2020”, says Pokharel.
Eager to take initiative, the students reached out to City Councilors through emails for advice on how to format their ideas similarly to the actual City Council. The students also discussed their vision extensively with the Mayor’s office and the City Solicitor where they received full support and advice on how to implement their vision to be incorporated into the administrative code to receive a budget.
“I recall one memory during a Saturday morning at 11 a.m., Samaga and I were on a Zoom meeting drafting a letter reaching out to the Boston Youth Council after being inspired through researching what their council has been able to accomplish”, says Lau, “especially this year with so much going around the world, Everett teens have taken so much action, and there’s so much more potential for the future. The youth council will be a bridge to have the youth voices heard and streamlined directly to the city so the wonderful community of Everett could continue to push for changes, especially the ones important to the new generation of leaders.”
As a temporary advisor, Councilor Stephanie Martins worked with the students to plan a timeline and turn their proposal into a resolution. Martins will also be part of the membership selection process during the formation of this nine-member youth council along with School Committee member Samantha Lambert, and Assistant Principal Cory McCarthy. Councilor Fred Capone was also instrumental through the legislative process along with Councilor Rosa DiFlorio, who contributed with feedback on the number of members. The entire Council was proud to co-sponsor and unanimously pass the resolution to provide a platform for teens to become civically engaged.
The youths are planning on getting involved with organizing events and creating noticeable impact in the community at large right after the members are selected. The founders plan on making mental health for teens the main focus for the year 2021. However, their vision includes projects and other involvements, collaboratively decided on by the members, to tackle several different community issues. Their vision of this youth council is to create a legacy of local change that demonstrates what adolescent empowerment can do, and becoming a point of pride for the city as a whole. Samaga shares that “this is the start to bring more solutions to youth related issues in Everett.”
Kien is enthusiastic about the next steps: “After we create our bylaws, we wish to become codified into the administrative code so our passionate members can be compensated for their time and effort through a $1,000 term stipend.”
Applications are currently open until May 10, 2021, for any Everett resident between the ages 14-18.
APPLY ONLINE: https://tinyurl.com/YouthCouncil2021