if you are connected to me via twitter or facebook, you'll know that i was at a hamilton youth council event this evening. they described it as a "launch", but it wasn't until after talking to a few people there that i realised that the launch was of their new website.
still, it was great to see a room full of wonderful young people, engaged and active, ready to contribute. and as i've written so often before, i hate the way our society writes off young people and is critical of them for little more than that they do things differently. i hate the narratives that come through, especially letters to the editor. they are hardly likely to make our young people feel that they are a valued part of our society.
i hope they felt valued tonight. the event was well attended, and the adults who spoke certainly let them know how important they were to the city. but the bulk of the speaking was done by the young people, who were articulate & intelligent, and very enthusiastic about the work programme they have ahead of them.
it's no surprise that naomi kumar was one of the youth councillors. and it was wonderful to see the diversity on the council - check out the photos here. but there is an explanation for it. the selection process, as explained to me by khan edmonds, was like a job interview. the young people sent in their CVs & had to go through an interview process. which indicates a selection panel.
what they did not have to go through was an election with voting from the general public. had that been the case, and in our current society, it's unlikely that some of these people would have got through. possibly they would have been hesitant to put their names forward knowing that they would have been judged much more harshly than others. and it's also likely that their considerable talents would not have been recognised by the voting population.
one of the aims of the youth council is to raise awareness and increase their profile in the community by engaging with community groups. i really applaud this move, as it is one way to start pushing against those ingrained prejudices. so that hopefully when & if they are ready to stand for public office, the public will be ready to accept them for who they are and to see them as kiwis.
in the meantime, i wish them all well & congratulate them on putting on a successful event. i'm expecting great things from these young people.