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Minister's Youth Council - Leo H.

April 23

In this innovation-driven society, many youths are becoming impactful leaders in their communities. As someone who strives for purpose, I am always amazed by people who go that extra mile to be part of a positive change. I would see teens establishing charities for suicide prevention and spreading awareness on topics such as mental health. I would hear about young entrepreneurs setting up programs that promote STEM education in schools throughout the province. And I would look down upon myself, whilst lying in bed and eating popcorn, and wonder why I was not doing anything. Why I lacked their unfaltering enthusiasm. I had the constant desire to be more involved, but never would I have the motivation to bring it further. Then one day, I found out about the Minister’s Youth Council. 

You see, learning has forever been the foundation of my life. I have come to realize that knowledge might be the most important thing a person can have, and early on, is the basis for a child’s future. Education is the key to securing a committed and visionary generation, and understandably, requires the voice of students. For me, MYC would be a chance to demonstrate my passion. The Council, simply, is a government initiative to include youth perspectives in the development of Alberta’s education. It is a group of 32 diverse individuals, chosen annually across Alberta, who meet in Edmonton three times a year, and alongside the Minister of Education, discuss issues that affect students. I applied earnestly and was accepted into the inaugural 2017/18 Minister’s Youth Council.

During our first session in September, I was consistently inspired by the dedication of the other members. Anyone could see the fire in their eyes, their willingness to provide input and put forth ideas. They all were able to maintain that high standard of kindness and care, and it felt as if every opinion was valued and meaningful. I made new friends, each with notable and unique experiences. It was a warming feeling, really. But little did I know, I would be ever more awed when we truly began working. 

Have you had that enjoyable feeling when you were able to do something, and do it well? What we accomplished that weekend still uplifts me, having engaged in such a scale of productivity. At the beginning, we all had a particular matter we wanted to talk about, but we agreed that we would not get anywhere if everyone had their own topic. I began to appreciate what was known as prioritization. It was more than just seeing which subjects had the most support, but rather deepening the significance and providing a place for us to start, a place to bloom ideas. We spoke about day-to-day problems in our schools. We developed surveys to incorporate other voices. We acknowledged our humanness, accepting that perfection can hold us back. We collaborated and compromised, respecting and accepting our differences. We worked with diligence, and at the end of the day, we were thoroughly impressed by the progress we had made.

As a group, we discerned that change does not happen overnight; it needs time, patience, and teamwork. But it will come when people take the first step to make it happen. If there was one specific thing I got out of it, it would be this: your voice matters. I feel that all youth should be aware of that and embrace it. When you are able to speak directly to the Minister, it gives a reassuring sense of confidence, realizing that you are right at the core of change. I thank their student engagement team for taking these measures, these steps, to guarantee student influence. Personally, the Council has enhanced my leadership skills and empowered me to live, knowing I can make a difference.

It certainly is an exciting opportunity, and I recommend any junior or senior high school student to apply to the Minister’s Youth Council. This is your chance to have a direct line to the Ministry and be capable of initiating change in Alberta’s education. The impact you create with this passionate team will last well into the future. For more information, please visit: www.education.alberta.ca/myc.

Leo H.