INDIANAPOLIS — 25 Indianapolis teens have been chosen to serve on the Mayor's Youth Leadership Council, helping inform public policies that impact young people, giving youth a voice, as well as a platform to make a difference.
“They have a voice and they want to use it and be a part of it now,” said Bernard Mickle, MCCOY Youth Engagement, Empowerment and Outreach Director. "And the cool part is, they're from all over the city."
WRTV caught up with a few of the 25 promising young students who have the opportunity to make a real difference in our community.
The diverse group of teens are in their junior or senior year of high school, chosen to be on Mayor Hogsett's Youth Leadership Council representing all nine Indianapolis townships.
The teenagers have the opportunity to be face-to-face with the mayor, have a seat at the table, and help make decisions to build the future community they want to live in.
“We are the ones who can best talk about what affects us,” Aidan Klineman, a student at Park Tudor said.
“I’ve always wanted to make a voice and share how I feel about certain things that sometimes it’s kind of hard to do as teens,” Erilyn Washington, a student at Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School said.
They discuss topics on city government, social justice, poverty and equality.
“I’m really passionate about gun violence and criminal justice reform,” said Klineman.
“I would say the biggest thing right now would be climate change and immigration,” Esther Cer, a student at Perry Meridian High School said.
“I’m really passionate about the effects of teen violence in our community,” said Washington.
“Other topics are the education field and how students are learning and are not learning in ways that are impacting them and their mental health,” said Mickle.
The city partners with the Marion County Commission on Youth to help develop the next generation of Indianapolis leaders and elevate young people’s role in making Indy a safer, stronger and more welcoming city.
“We are equipping them while also learning from them ways to engage young people,” Mickle added.
“The school I go to is predominantly Black and some people live in different areas. You hear stories oh my gosh somebody really close to me just got shot or somebody real close to me is in danger and stuff like that,” said Washington. “So hearing that, it’s kind of coming close to home to me so I’m like this is something that needs to be shared.”
“There are issues,” said Klineman. “Big issues that youth face especially in the city of Indianapolis that need to be have attention called to them.”
The students meet every month for ten months, they are trained through civic engagement and community outreach and come up with actual solutions to improve the city and present those to the mayor.
“They’re actually going to work on projects that will actually make a difference by the end of their cohort,” said Mickle. “They will actually implement it.”
“I would like the mayor and everybody to really listen to the youth, and through this I think they really well,” said Washington. “So my big goal is just put my ideas out there and see what happens.”