East York Mirror
It makes a small article in the media. In fact, it won't even make most Toronto media.
Yet, Saturday's Rexdale/Jamestown youth solutions forum is a critical element in community building in one Toronto priority neighbourhood. It's part of the Rexdale Priority Neighbourhood program.
The youth-led event will focus on issues identified in a recent in-depth survey completed by the youth living in the neighbourhood. Through documentary film screenings, a theatrical presentation, graffiti and a panel discussion, youth will have various platforms upon which to present their concerns and engage in solution-oriented discussion.
The forum begins at 1 p.m. at Elmbank Junior Middle School, 10 Pittsboro Dr., followed by a barbecue and entertainment by local talent.
Any time youth take control and become advocates of a better community, it's a significant step.
The leadership shown by these youth needs to be bred early in our young citizens. And youth understand the youth issues better than anyone else.
Joined by the guidance of facilitators there's a much better chance of formulating plans -or at least planting seeds - to benefit youth and building a better community future for young people.
We too often think of community building as bestowed upon the elders or already engaged in such work. And yet we all know great community building is far too much work for far too few to accomplish.
Too often, adults are asked to solve issues created by or affecting those of a younger generation. It's a lot to ask and too often it's creates programs based on guesses on how to actively engage youth and grow public participation.
We'd encourage any citizen group looking to better their community to actively seek youth representation. Place a youth on your group's advisory board. Get a youth opinion on priority of issues. Let young people contribute freely to the discussion of solutions.
Not only will you train community leaders of tomorrow, but you will also get a young person's perspective; it becomes invaluable as you attempt to reach a demographic not necessarily reflected in your discussions today.
People build community programs in the hope that they last. That makes it imperative to engage the people who for continuance, must be the participants of tomorrow - if not today.
The priority neighbourhood program affects a limited number of areas of Toronto. Yet competent, intelligent leaders of tomorrow are everywhere. Engage them. Challenge them. Lead them and let them lead you.
Keep an eye on the young people of Rexdale/Jamestown trying to make a difference. They are youth leaders of today and community leaders of today and tomorrow.