By Lorilyn C. Lirio
Olympia council member Yen Huynh proposed that the city set up a youth council to involve young people in local government and ensure their voices are heard in crucial decisions.
At a city council meeting held on Tuesday, June 14, Huynh said young people have a stake in everything the local government does.
She also pointed out that the resolution M-2045 of the city of Olympia, signed in 2019, supports this concept. The 2019 action was also called the Youth Legacy Resolution and declared Olympia’s continued commitment to working with young people. It was an expression of the council’s commitment to protecting the youth of the community from the risks of climate destruction.
In 2019, the city council also supported youth participation in the regional climate mitigation plan stakeholder committee.
“Youth councils allow young people to play a more active role in decisions about programs and policies that affect them, rather than being passive recipients of these services. This early engagement in government can have many benefits for all young people, especially those with diverse identities who typically do not have a seat at the table,” said the recommendation sponsored by Huynh with members of the counsel Dani Madrone and Lisa Parshley.
He added that “youth councils can help decision-makers ensure they consider new perspectives and ideas to meet the long-term needs of community members.”
Huynh wanted to set aside $30,000 of the council’s goal money to support the effort by hiring a group of consultants.
Huynh said the consultant(s) would be responsible for researching successful youth council models and best practices, engaging and consulting with young people in the Olympia area, and providing a recommendation to Olympia City Council on the best way to defend an Olympia youth council.
Parshley said she had the opportunity to work with three young people when they negotiated with high school students for the inheritance resolution.
“We need voices like that to inform our decisions and our politics. These three young women got everything they wanted,” Parshley remarked. “They were smart and smart, and that’s their future.”
Parshley said local government must ensure that future generations are first affected by climate change to be part of it. “And the best way to do that is with advice like this.”
When they made the legacy resolution in 2019, Parshley said the city council promised to involve young people. “We haven’t done it yet. This reference is a way to get there.”