On the 26th and 27th of September, the Christchurch Youth Council with support from Youth Voice Canterbury and PYLAT hosted Youth Focus: Local Election Q&A 2016. The purpose of Youth Focus was to involve youth in the process of voting for the next local government and hearing the opinions of candidates on youth issues. Young people are the future in any community, and their voices need to be heard at all times but especially during an election period. We were very lucky to have such strong support from different community groups including the locations of both events the Undercroft at the University of Canterbury and St John of God Waipuna. Many candidates running for a position in council and boards were very supportive in their attendance and promotion. We aimed for Youth Focus to be an environment that young people felt invited to speak and/ or listen to what plans for the future of Christchurch. The formality of other events can turn away youth and we hoped to create a friendly event that would support youth engagement. The atmosphere of Youth Focus was one of discussion and collaboration that we hope continues in the coming years with the elected members of the council and community boards. There was a positive turnout at both events that will develop a stronger relationship between youth and local government. Candidates offered very innovative ideas for youth engagement in their community that we look forward to seeing develop.
Key topics and ideas discussed at Youth Focus included
These ideas are important efforts that will support the process of reconnecting youth with local government. The excitement over youth engagement could flourish into future events and discussion that will assist the rebuild of Christchurch. The event of Youth Focus was a step in the right direction to enhance the participation of young people in Christchurch both in national and local government process.
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