For Immediate Release: 5/23/2012 4:01 pm
Worcester, MA (May 23, 2012) - At a ceremony held today at Worcester City Hall, City Manager Michael V. O'Brien inducted local students to the City of Worcester's Youth Opportunities Office's inaugural Youth Council. Joined by Congressman James P. McGovern, Mayor Joseph M. Petty, and members of City Council were twelve students from area schools who will serve a one year term on the City's Youth Council, beginning July 1.
"This is an exciting initiative to engage our leaders of tomorrow in the civic process," said City Manager O'Brien. "It gives our young people a voice in local government about issues that are most important to them, such as jobs, safety, downtown activity and recreation."
The Youth Council was announced in January, as part of the Youth Opportunities Office's broader Agenda for Youth and the work of the Advisory Committee on Youth, chaired by John G. O'Brien, President and CEO, UMass Memorial Health Care. The Agenda identified a number of strategies for engaging young people in all aspects of civic life, and outlines short- and long-term initiatives to address the needs of at-risk Worcester youth between the ages of 14 and 21.
"I am excited that the City of Worcester's Youth Council has been formed," said Mayor Joseph M. Petty. "Hearing the concerns and points of view of the upcoming generation is critical for us, the elected leaders, to help us make better and more informed decisions for the future."
Members of the Youth Council are as follows:
District 1: Lindsay Degnan – Doherty Memorial High School; Leonard Goodwin – Holy Name Junior Senior High School; and Nicole Tokatli – Marianapolis Preparatory School
District 2: Grosewon Casey – North High School; Tarik Octave – Saint John's High School; and Brian Saal – Burncoat High School
District 3: Isaac Berko – Abby Kelley Foster Charter Public School; and Hans Williams – South High Community School
District 4: Daniel Gutierrez – Doherty Memorial High School; and William Pickens – Quinsigamond Community College
District 5: Kayla Casavant – Marianapolis Preparatory School; and Alexandra Dellostritto – Worcester Academy
"Positive youth development is critical to the overall health of the community in the broadest sense. This includes items like job-training and workforce development," added John G. O'Brien, President and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care. "By involving our young people early in the processes that will eventually shape them, we ultimately are shaping the public health of the region."
The Youth Council was created to provide young people with a direct connection to local government. Under the guidance of the City's Youth Director Jesse Edwards, the Youth Council will meet regularly, first conducting a survey of their peers to identify the top issues of importance to our youth. The Council will then research, conduct outreach and perform community service and provide formal recommendations to the appropriate legislative bodies.
"Our students of today are our leaders of tomorrow. It's incredible to see so many young people step up to take an active role in public service, and I'm excited to honor their involvement in this program," said Congressman James P. McGovern.
More than 40 applications were received. A diverse 13-member committee selected candidates based on the strength of the application, essay and written recommendations.
The selection committee included: Maurie Bergeron, LUK Inc.; Wynn DuVernay, East Side Community Development Corporation; Tess Esperenza, Dynamy; Amanda Gregoire, City of Worcester; Keesha LaTulippe, Henry Lee Willis Center; Miguel Lopez, Worcester Police Department; Sean McGauley, Central Mass Workforce Investment Board; Asa Needle, Worcester Roots; Phil Niddrie, Central Mass Workforce Investment Board; Tracy O'Connell Novick, Worcester School Committee; Sarai Rivera, City Council; Gary Rosen, former City Council; and Laurie Ross, Clark University.
The Youth Council is sponsored by UMass Memorial Health Care and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts