Squamish teenagers are looking to roll up their sleeves in community projects, particularly in city hall.
A survey focusing on youth activity needs in Squamish indicates the community’s young residents want to become more involved in what’s happening in town. The survey, conducted by Quest University graduate Erica Benson, saw 117 students from Grades 7 to 12 fill out a questionnaire. The project was a part of Benson’s studies examining healthy ways to facilitate teenagers’ well-being.
“As much as kids want more activities, it is really the connection to the community they want,” Benson said.
The results highlighted “a lack of arts-focused activities, and a lack of opportunities for inter-generational interactions to occur” in Squamish. Out of the survey’s respondents, 28 per cent already donate their time to extracurricular activities, yet participants requested more volunteer opportunities, Benson noted.
“It was definitely nice to see that,” Benson said. “I think there is a lot more to youth than what we give them credit for.”
There was a call from politically minded youth or youth groups with connections to city hall, she added. Survey participants said they want to increase youth awareness and involvement in municipal issues. Inadequate transportation was highlighted in the survey as youth’s biggest challenge to participating in after-school events and activities.
“They want a chance for their voice to be heard,” Benson said. “It might be beneficial to council too.”
Both youth engagement in politics and transportation are on council’s radar, Coun. Patricia Heintzman said. A few terms ago, the District of Squamish council had its own youth shadow council.
“I would love to see that kind of resurrected,” she said.
A youth advisory council would educate teenagers about the inner workings and limitations of municipal governments, Heintzman said.
In the age of social media, municipalities have to take advantage of the multitude of communication lines, Heintzman said.
“We have to figure out how to connect with them,” she said.