BY: Bethany Pöltl, chair of the Lord Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council
“The leaders of tomorrow can become the leaders of today and develop their impactful voices through involvement with their peers and town community … The time for us to speak up as youth and collaborate with others has come.”
These were my thoughts when I approached lord mayor Pat Darte about the idea of establishing a real voice for youth in NOTL. I was met with incredible support and encouragement. Along with councillors Martin Mazza and Paolo Miele, and staff member Lauren Kruitbosch, we decided that the time for youth voices to be heard is now. And so, the NOTL Lord Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council was established October 2017.
The Lord Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council aims to include the youth of our beautiful town of Niagara-on-the-Lake and increase opportunities for youth — because it is our town, one with a considerable youth demographic.
It was a whirlwind of action, excitement and lots of emails to start. Our Council consists of myself and eight amazing members, each who brought their ideas, enthusiasm and hearts to our meetings. Meeting once a month meant we had to move fast to start our first initiatives. We entered the NOTL Christmas Parade to introduce ourselves to our town and promote the message that we are ready to listen to the NOTL youth.
In December we held the first annual NOTL Youth Holiday Celebration, where youth aged three to 18 displayed their musical, vocal, and dance talent on the stage spreading holiday cheer. We will be hosting our second annual Youth Holiday Celebration this December. Those interested in attending or performing should contact me using the Town’s Join the Conversation website. We are always looking to highlight the talents of our local youth.
In the spring, we organized and hosted our first mental health and wellness conference for our local Grade 8 students. This day was a great success. In addition to the Town, we found partnerships with Rotary, Twin Power Financial, Yellow Door Theatre, Niagara Regional Health, Niagara Fitness and Rehabilitation and Enbridge. We are also teaming up with the NOTL Library to encourage teen readers by starting a Teen Literary Club. Our very knowledgeable speakers included Jason LaLonde, a certified Financial Analyst, Melissa Dunlop, a registered dietitian, and Andorlie Hillstrom, the founder and artistic director of Yellow Door Theatre Project.
Currently we are seeking new members for the 2018 to 2019 council. Applications can be found online at www.jointheconversationnotl.org and the deadline to apply is Friday September 14.
We can’t wait to hear from you!