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It starts with today's youth by Aydin Bhojani '20

It starts with today's youth by Aydin Bhojani '20

The Youth Council is a new committee of the Calgary Foundation that hopes to inform and empower youth. The idea for the Youth Council emerged from the success of the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (STS) Primary Years Programme (PYPx). Having just completed its third year, the PYPx has been very successful in teaching youth about vulnerable people in our community and empowering them to advocate on behalf of those groups. The project has had a profound impact not only on the community and the school, but also on the Calgary Foundation itself. 

The Calgary Foundation gives grants to community organizations totalling about $50-million every year. In making decisions concerning these grants, the Calgary Foundation takes into account the views and wants of many people. These people include donors, non-profits, and community leaders, as well as many others. Of all the voices that inform grant decisions at the Calgary Foundation, every single one of these voices is an adult voice. 

After the PYPx, the Calgary Foundation realized that they had a unique opportunity to reach a new generation: youth. They hope not only to teach us about social issues and philanthropy but also to incorporate our perspective into grant-making at the Calgary Foundation. The Calgary Foundation saw the power and potential that we, the youth in our community, have. 

The Youth Council is an effort to tap into this power and to further empower youth in our community. The Youth Council intends to connect youth with the current issues facing our community and to incorporate youth voices and ideas into the grant-making decision process for all grants at the Calgary Foundation, especially those grants that target youth. 

"This is a unique and empowering opportunity for Lauren and I to use our voice and power to affect change."

This will be the first year of the Youth Council. Participants were chosen from schools across Calgary. From STS, Lauren Weissenborn '21 and I were chosen to participate along with 12 other youth from other schools. The youth range in age from 13 to 18 years old and come from all different backgrounds. The first Youth Council is focussing on "The Environment: Pursuing a Sustainable Future." As participants, we will learn what it means to "pursue a sustainable future." We will discuss how, as humans, we can live in a way today that allows us to live in the same way forever. We will then visit and learn about non-profit organizations that work in the environmental sector. Finally, we will share our views as to our perspective on how best to pursue a sustainable future, and these views will help to inform grant-making at the Calgary Foundation. 

Organizations like the Calgary Foundation are trying to build a better world for the future. That is OUR future and our children's future and we have been given an opportunity to have our voices heard to shape what that future might look like.