Last month, I talked about having more ’courageous conversations” - ones where we not only talk about what’s important to our communities, but how we actually put our money where our mouths are and do things the way they need to be done.
The latest school shooting in Florida and the deaths of 14 young people and 3 adults was horrific. However, the emergence of a new set of leaders representing the voices of young people from that shooting was incredibly exciting. With all of the chaos and political upheaval occurring in our wonderful nation, I am nevertheless extremely hopeful about our future. I have never been so excited as when I heard these young people calling bullshit on the excuses we continually hear from certain sectors of our society.
As adults, our responsibility is to create an environment where youth voices will be honored, respected, and heard, and provide them with the resources they need to resist and persist. We must engage our young people in the conversation about our present and future, for it is theirs.
I am excited about efforts at the City as we move to more intentionally work with our future leaders to map our City’s future.
First, in December, the City Council adopted a youth development framework that provides a foundation of quality for all programs that the City either runs or funds.
In January, the Council voted to restructure our parks department into a Department of Youth, Parks, and Community Enrichment to focus on City infrastructure that supports our young people. In February, a number of Council members have decided to pool resources to support the creation of youth Councils in their districts.
And finally, in March, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments will begin discussions about how to create a youth version of the organization to involve young people in weighing in on transportation and land use decisions that will impact their lives.
These are but a few examples where the City of Sacramento is working to become a place that truly supports its young people. I am excited about and confident in our future. The young people in Florida are setting an example of great leadership, and I’m confident that Sacramento’s next generation will follow.
In addition to his council duties, Jay works as an independent consultant and policy advisor on education reform and youth policy and strategies.