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Jun. 18, 2021 | Friday
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Youth council seeks ways to engage fellow young folks
The NOTL Youth Advisory Council is working on several projects to engage young people. (Supplied)

Fatima Baig
Special to Niagara Now/The Lake Report

The NOTL Youth Advisory Council is working on several projects in the community to encourage youth to get involved and lift their spirits.

Some of these initiatives are packages to boost youth spirits during the pandemic, acknowledgments of historical monuments and clearing litter from NOTL parks.

"The goal of the council is to give the youth of NOTL a voice and encourage their involvement within the community," said Janvi Ganatra, chair of the Youth Advisory Council.

The council also has a series of mental health videos on YouTube and social media to help youth cope during the pandemic. The organization is looking for partnerships from local businesses for the youth packages.

Michaiah Ivri, a member of the advocacy subcommittee of the council, joined the group because she wanted to be a voice for young people.

"I think advocacy among young people is very important. Right now, we have a lot of needs and things that we need to have in our community, and if we don't join any council, our decisions are not being heard, or our opinions are not being heard, then needs are not being met," she said.

"So, I wanted to be the voice for young people in the community to make sure our needs are being met."

According to Ganatra, members of the council know first-hand how the pandemic has affected young people. They've experienced it personally.

"We know right now with the pandemic, especially with youth, it's hard on mental health as well just because you're not as connected and things are changing," said Ganatra.

Ivri noted she is a very hands-on person and hasn't been able to do some projects online.

"I have a visual arts and technology course and we haven't been able to do some of the stuff we usually do. For example, we were supposed to make a C02 race car and we weren't able to do that because not everybody has the material to make it," she said.

She also knows how much social isolation and not seeing people face to face can affect somebody.

Whether it's group projects or working with the youth council, "It's been hard to connect with people. There are some people who I don't even know what their faces look like because the Zoom calls can only show so many faces," Ivri said

Another goal of the council is to develop an exciting way to keep youth occupied and engaged, she said.

"Because we live in a small town, there is not a lot of interesting things to do and occupy us with, so we are trying to make our community more interesting, so people have more things to focus on," she said.

The council is tackling this issue by collaborating and providing feedback to build a study hall and holding events like a trivia night that was held on April 30. They are also working on their social media to increase youth engagement by providing youth activities, such as online challenges.

The study hall idea is just a concept at this point, with no firm plans set.

Ivri is passionate about bringing awareness about landmarks and monuments in NOTL and is working with the council to achieve that.

She is most concerned about increasing awareness about the impacts of Black and First Nations people on history in NOTL and in Canada.

The committee is collecting information and is looking to create an infographic and contact the tourist industry on NOTL, so information about landmarks and the infographic can be accessed through their website.

"I know that there are people who aren't recognized in our history that should be. They are just as much of a part of this town as anybody else, and there are things that have been created to recognize them, but not many people know about that. We are trying to bring awareness to that so that people can appreciate these things," she said.

The council is also collecting information through a survey about which parks contain the most litter so it can be cleaned up.

"We asked where have you seen litter in the parks so we can give the information to the proper people so that we can clean up the litter in the park and so that it can stay clean and enjoyable for people," said Ivri.

According to Kaitlyn Lambert, another member of the advocacy subcommittee, among the areas the council wants to help clean up are Queenston Heights Park, St. Davids Lions Club, Queen's Royal Park, Simcoe Park, Cannery Park, Virgil Sports Park and Glendale Park.

The survey is accessible through the Youth Advisory Council's social media or the Town of NOTL's Join the Conversation web page. The results will be announced when sufficient information is collected.

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