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Youth voices heard at symposium

By Mariah McCooey-The youth symposium held Friday at the Queen Charlotte visitor info centre was a thought-provoking afternoon that provided a venue for youth to express their opinions on local issues.
The English 12 students, from Queen Charlotte Secondary, worked individually or in groups to address an topic of their choice. They spoke about issues affecting them as individuals and also about things that affect the whole community.
Environmental concerns were one of the prevalent topics, with presentations about the trophy hunting of black bears, offshore oil exploration, and the persistent problem of roadside litter.
"This is a beautiful island," said presenter Robert Draeger, "but look at all the garbage in the ditches."
Social issues were also in the forefront. Kacper Kockanek gave a presentation on the problem of substance abuse. "Cocaine is a hidden terror within our community," he said.
This issue of drug and alcohol abuse among the islands' youth was addressed in many of the presentations. Speakers attributed a lack of recreational options to the rise in substance abuse, vandalism, and dropout rates.
"Vandalism is directly related to a lack of options," said Ashley Muller in her presentation about the lack of youth involvement in decision making. "They (the vandals) are just trying to be heard, to get attention," she said, referring to a recent community hall incident in Charlotte.
Derek Brady and Kyle Leslie said local high schools should start a trades apprenticeship program where students could get practical training so that they could be more prepared to enter the workforce upon graduation. Both said that it would help to increase interest in school, and "not just for the kids who want to be doctors and lawyers."
The presentations were all well thought out and addressed a wide range of issues that affect not only young people but everyone in the community.
Overall, the symposium was a 'call-to-arms' for local youth to get more politically involved, to get their opinions out there and make it clear what they want.

About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

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