On April 3rd, 5 young people were officially sworn-in to serve on the very first term of the newly established City-Wide Youth Commission. This is an historic moment in the history of the City of Madera, demonstrating City Hall’s commitment to including youth at the decision-making table.
“Being able to serve my community and the city in which I live is a good feeling” said Alexia Sanchez. “Being a youth commissioner means that I can put my voice out there for those who don’t have one.”
A recognized entity of city government, the Madera Youth Commission will be responsible for advising the Madera City Council and the Mayor on policies and laws related to young people. The Commission is also charged with providing comment and recommendation on all proposed laws that affect youth before the City Council takes final action.
The new Youth Commission is the product of over a year of behind-the-scenes work by YLI’s youth leaders and adult allies, as well as YLI’s partners at the Madera Unified School District, the City of Madera, United Way of Fresno, Madera County, and Madera Parks and Recreation. The partnership was built on a strong belief that youth play an important role in bringing change to our communities:
“We believe that youth in Madera have powerful voices; it is our hope that through the work we do at Youth Leadership Institute we can guide the youth to use their voices and address policy issues they would like to see changed within their community,” said YLI Madera Program Manager, Katrina Ruiz.
Deeply rooted in their communities, youth have unique perspectives on – and fresh solutions to – the issues that impact them. Just in the last year, YLI-supported youth commissions in other cities have helped pass policies that create jobs for youth, institute restorative justice practices for underage drinking, and ensure that fees for justice-involved youth are removed from the books, among other significant policy wins. In Madera, the new Youth Commission will become a key platform for bringing youth voice to the decision-making table.
Early civic engagement also ensures that youth are prepared for future success: “We believe that the next generation of leaders can come from Madera and want to make sure our students know we are counting on them,” said City of Madera Mayor, Andy Medellin.