Olympia mulls creating youth council


Olympia council member Yen Huynh proposed that the city create a youth council to engage young people in local government and ensure their voices are heard in crucial decisions.

In a city council meeting held Tuesday, June 14, Huynh said the young people have a stake in everything the local government does.

She also pointed out that the City of Olympia Resolution M-2045, signed in 2019, supports this concept. The 2019 action was also called the Youth Inheritance Resolution andstated Olympia's ongoing commitment to working with youth. It was an expression of commitment from the city council to protect the youth in the community from the risks of climate destruction.

The city council in 2019 also supported having youth participation on the Regional Climate Mitigation Plan Stakeholder Committee.

"Youth councils enable young people to take a more active role in decisions regarding programs and policies impacting them, rather than being passive recipients of these services. This early engagement in government can have numerous benefits for all youth, especially those with diverse identities who generally do not have a seat at the table," stated the referral sponsored by Huynh along with council members Dani Madrone and Lisa Parshley.

It added that "youth councils can assist policymakers in ensuring they are considering fresh perspectives and ideas for addressing 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 consultant group.

Huynh said the consultant/s would be tasked with researching successful youth council models and best practices, engaging and consulting with Olympia area youth, and providing a recommendation to the Olympia City Council on how best to stand up for an Olympia Youth Council.

Parshley said she had an opportunity to work with three young people when they negotiated with high school students for the inheritance resolution.

"We need voices like that informing our decisions and our policy. Those three young women got every single thing they wanted,” Parshley remarked. “They were smart and intelligent, and this is their future."

Parshley said the local government needs to have the future generations first impacted by climate change to be part of this. "And the best way to do that is a council like this."

When they made the inheritance resolution in 2019, Parshley said the city council made a promise that they would involve the youth. "We have not done that yet. This referral is a way to get there."


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