Southern Vermont students part of youth council
VERMONT - A group of 28 newly appointed young leaders from across the state convened the first meeting of the Vermont State Youth Council last week. The full-day session, held at the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier, brought together a diverse group of youth across ages, grades, genders, lived experiences, policy interests, and other characteristics. The council is charged with providing Gov. Phil Scott and state legislators advice and recommendations on policies that impact young Vermonters.
Members of the Vermont State Youth Council include Jack Edgar, of Brattleboro; Deniz Kuser, of Bennington; Emily Maikoo, of Bennington; Mitchel Tasca, of Brattleboro; Marina Wilson, of Brattleboro; and Aliyah Ivey-Leake, of Shaftsbury.
The Vermont State Youth Council was established through Act 109, signed into law in May 2022. The application process to join the council opened in September and more than 200 applications were submitted in less than a month.
Support for the council is provided by the Youth Services Advisory Council, an Agency of Human Services interagency workgroup with members from the Departments of Health and Mental Health; Vermont Afterschool, a statewide nonprofit that promotes afterschool and out-of-school learning opportunities; and other community and state partners.
The council’s organizational session was facilitated by youth leaders from Up for Learning and representatives of Vermont Afterschool. In the coming months, members will receive training on Vermont governance and the legislative process, public speaking, effective meeting procedures, leadership skills, and how to formulate policy proposals.
The Health Department’s 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey points to opportunities for including youth voice and leadership in policy development. The Vermont YRBS found that 16% of youth stated that they do not believe they matter to people in their community. There was a significant decrease in youth who say they feel like they matter from 2017 to 2019. The survey showed that female-identified youth, youth of color, those who identify as LGBTQ+, and younger people are significantly less likely than their peers to feel they matter.
The Vermont State Youth Council will meet monthly and may hold up to four public hearings annually to take testimony on issues affecting Vermont youth. They will also gather peer input through surveys or polls.