Forum will give teens a chance to be heard
There are more than 7,000 Rosemount residents under the age of 18, and the city council and its youth commission want to make sure they are being represented well.
On May 12 the two bodies will partner to host a youth summit.
The goal of the summit is to get perspective on issues that affect young people and to get input on ideas for amenities in the community to serve youth.
Youth commission member Adam Kutz said the groups hope to get opinions from teens in the community as well as from their parents and people who work with youth about a variety of issues.
"Youth can benefit from the opportunity to share their opinions. Government officials do care about individual citizens and they can have a say in government," said Kutz.
Students in seventh through 12th grades are encouraged to attend the event. Cedric Hagen, vice chair of the youth commission, said by talking with teens in the community both the city council and youth commission will be able to better represent them. Hagen hopes teens will take the opportunity to have their voices heard.
"We would love to see people of all backgrounds come forward," said Hagen.
The youth summit will be a town hall style meeting. Mayor Bill Droste said teens can bring up any topic or issues they feel need to be addressed. Droste said the council wants opinions about things like employment, ways to combat bullying, discrimination and drug abuse.
"If you're a young person who feels no one asks for your opinion, this is your opportunity to speak out."
Droste said he's looking forward to hearing what the teens in the community have to say.
"I think it's energizing to be around young people and I'm excited to hear what they have to say," said Droste.
Council member Jeff Weisensel, who serves as the liaison to the youth commission, said the idea for the summit came out of last year's National League of Cities conference. He said they were discussing how to engage residents and other communities talked about hosting similar events for youth.
"We're always trying to do something different to make things better. We want to explore outside the box," said Weisensel.
As a goal, Weisensel said the council wants to reach out to more to all residents. This is the council's effort to connect with youth.
"We want kids to realize you get a say in this," said Weisensel.
Going forward, Droste hopes the council will be able to use the comments from the summit to make changes in the community. He added that depending on the response, the city may hold additional youth-centered events in the future.
"It won't be meaningful if we don't make changes," said Droste.
No one knows how many teens will attend. Both Kutz and Hagen, who are seniors at Rosemount High School, said friends and classmates have expressed interest in the event. They just hope they will show up.
The youth summit will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. May 12 at city hall. Pizza and refreshments will be provided. Participants can stop in anytime during the two-hour event.