Contributed photo Red Deer Peacebuilders will pitch the idea of creating a youth advisory council to city politicians next month.

Red Deer group aims to give youth a stronger voice

A group of central Albertans want young Red Deerians to have a bigger voice in the community.

Members of the Red Deer Peacebuilders program, which features youths and young adults aiming to make the community and world a better place, will pitch the idea of creating a youth advisory council to Red Deer city council next month.

“The idea is to have about 15 people, aged 13 to 23, speak to … any kind of issue that council is discussing that may impact youth in some way,” said Brynne Takhar, 18, a member of the group set to present the idea to council Sept. 3.

“So many issues do speak to youth in ways that you may not think about right away if you aren’t talking to youth about it.”

Calgary and Edmonton have a similar type of youth group, Takhar added.

The youth advisory council would feature a diverse group of people, including at least one refugee, one person in university or college and one person in the workforce.

“That’s just to make sure the perspective on certain things is as broad as possible,” said Takhar, who will be away at university in Ontario when the group presents the idea to council.

Peacebuilders, which is run by Burman University’s Centre for Peace and Justice in collaboration with the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights in Edmonton, launched this year. The Centre for Peace and Justice will take over the program moving forward.

“It’s always good to learn and expand your knowledge of different kinds of cultures and people, which is exactly what we did,” said Takhar.

“I learned so much, I grew so much as a person participating in Peacebuilders. All of the different field trips and the deep, important discussions we have really expanded my knowledge of not just Red Deer, but society in general,” she said.

Glen Graham, director of the Centre for Peace and Justice, said about 20 students participated in the first year of Peacebuilders.

“They learned about their own community, they were introduced to some of the issues various groups in the community are facing.

“They learned a lot about the process to help them assess the needs of Red Deer, and they used that information to come up with a ‘call to action’ to speak to some of those needs they were introduced to,” said Graham.

The vision is to integrate the program into the school system through clubs, he added.

“That would provide a firm foundation for the program,” said Graham.

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