Attending to the needs of the younger members of its population is all too often overlooked by local and national governments around the world. In the local case of youth and city councils, this appears to certainly be one thing Hastings does better than Napier.
I was a member of the “Napier City Council Youth Forum” in 1995 – a collection of senior students from all Napier’s High Schools and EIT. We got together once a month to discuss the issues facing
Napier’s young people, were instrumental in activities like getting tickets to HB Magpies games discounted for students, met with Hastings’ Youth Council of the time and as part of the NCCYF and the “Napier Safer Community Council”, I helped put on a “Napier Safer Community Fun Day” which was a great little event.
Since then the Forum went through the inevitable rebranding to become “YCoN – Youth Council of Napier” (why does everything have to be an acronym or in some form of text language these days to attain a perceived “credibility”?), hired several people in the role of dedicated “Youth Coordinator” for the council (what tangible events and things the position achieved or created is hard to tell as nothing remains) before dissolving the position – The council thought the money spent on the role would be better off going on skateboard bowls (because everyone under the age of 25 in Napier is an avid skateboarder?)
It got to the point that I was actually surprised that a Youth Council still existed in Napier, or that Napier City Council even had a “Youth Policy” – although reading through the document, it would appear to reveal more of a policy on what they don’t seem to be doing.
From what I’ve heard from a recent “YCoN” member, the body is now a sad shadow of its former self. Few members, few meetings and no Napier City Councillors have attended a YCoN meeting for a long time, including new councillors who’s platform included re-establishing a Napier youth music venue that the Council had quashed years earlier.
With Napier City Council taking such little notice of its younger residents, is it any wonder the city’s population is aging fast as we lose our bright, young talent to other regions and countries where they are valued, while unemployment, unempowerment and disaffection increase for those who choose to remain as opportunities decline and the region’s economy suffers?
Congratulations to Hastings Youth Council on your continued work and to Hastings District Council for deciding to take more notice of them, Napier could learn a lot from your actions.
You can visit the YCoN Website here: http://www.napieryouth.co.nz/youth-council/
(Caution, it is SEVERELY dated and untended to. Considering how technologically adept today’s youth are, their huge online community and reliance on this medium, this is a major failing in NCC’s communication efforts.)
Or read the Napier City Council’s “Youth Policy” Document here: