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Campbell Youth Say They Want to Be Heard by the City

Campbell's Youth Steering Committee wants festivals, arts, representatives and awards for young people who they say is largely ignored by the government.

The committee included Sofia Braunstein, front, Justin Ingram, left; Sarah Malone, right.
The committee included Sofia Braunstein, front, Justin Ingram, left; Sarah Malone, right.
Campbell is only one of two cities in Santa Clara County that don't have a youth commission, the city council was told Tuesday by some teen representatives asking the city to focus more on getting teens involved.

Although the city had pioneered youth involvement in the 1970s, that had dropped off. The only other nearby city with no commission is Monte Sereno.

Three teen reps from the Youth Engagement Steering Committee said there were a lot of ways the city could improve its outreach to people in middle and high school. They asked the city to sponsor a teen-oriented arts festival, to appoint a teen commission, to have youths on current commissions, to update the website in a way that would appeal to youth, to bring in youth speakers and give awards to teens for their community activities.

The trio of Sofia Braunstein, Justin Ingram and Sarah Malone also asked for more extensive job shadowing programs so that youths can learn about jobs in the city government.

Finally, they asked the city to build up its mental health facilities and provide more services for at-risk youth, who now must turn to overcrowded programs in San Jose.

They also asked for a job fair for teens and more internships, including reinstating the work experience program that was part of the government in the 1980s, but was cut, they said. 

Their most important goals are:

1. A youth commission to establish a youth voice in the community.

2. A youth-oriented website. 

3. A job fair.

4. Adoption of the Santa Clara County children's bill of rights. 

The committee was formed in March after a 2011 citywide survey showed a lack of youth involvement. Some of its conclusions were:

* 37 percent of high school students and 26 percent of middle school students didn't know what activities are available after school.

* 43 percent of high school students would like to work after school.

*64 percent of high school students and 57 percent of middle school students were interested in participating in youth-focused festivals and events.

*78 percent of high school students and 58 percent of middle school students felt the best way to communicate with them was through social media.

Mayor Evan Low said he thought the city represented youth because a number of council members had been elected young. He was 23 when he was elected and councilman Jeff Cristina was 30.


The council was supportive of the recommendations and accepted its report unanimously and would move forward toward them.
 
Councilman Jason Baker was concerned with the cost of staff time in forming another commission, but voted for it.

"Being old doesn't mean you think old," said Councilman Michael Kotowoski. "I'm the oldest person in the room, but I'm in favor a youth commission."



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