With a goal of getting younger residents involved in city government, Brooklyn Park is adding seats on some of its boards and commissions with the new positions reserved exclusively for 18- to 24-year-olds.
Additionally, the City Council on Monday approved language allowing the mayor to appoint up to two youth liaisons ages 14-18 to serve in a nonvoting advisory capacity on the city's Recreation and Parks commission.
"I am super glad to see it finally come that we are going to have young people as part of our advisory council, commissions and boards," Council Member Susan Pha said during a City Council meeting last month. "It will be valuable for us and for the youth."
The city's Human Rights, Planning, and Recreation and Parks commissions and the Budget Advisory Committee will grow from nine to 11 members when appointments are made, which likely will be in the spring, City Manager Jay Stroebel said.
Brooklyn Park is partnering with the Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth and its Youth on Board program to recruit and train youth and young adults to fill the positions. Those who are appointed will serve a one-year term and could serve up to three one-year terms.
The mission of the Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth is to represent youth in Brooklyn Park and neighboring Brooklyn Center by providing a forum to "positively raise awareness of problems facing youth."
Its mission is to engage young people in the community and make sure their voices are heard, said Julie Richards, the alliance's Youth and Community Engagement Initiative Coordinator.
"Tables make stronger decisions when they have more diversity on them," she said, defining diversity as everything from age and gender to ethnicity and economic status to immigrants, renters and those who don't see themselves as being in leadership.
Getting youths and young adults plugged in could keep them build a network of peers and a strong social network that could keep them in the community for years to come.
"There is a lot of talent here and so much opportunity, and we want to keep them here," Richards said. "Getting them engaged in the community is a great way to do that."
The alliance is currently identifying emerging leaders to fill the openings in Brooklyn Park. It held a training session on Nov. 13. Future sessions will include lessons to help potential members understand how government works and how it impacts their lives. Candidates will get training on Robert's Rules of Order, how to set a levy, plan a budget and build consensus — skills they will need on the job.
Youths and young adults also will get coaching on how to build a resume and social networks.
Brooklyn Park will begin advertising the new positions after the first of the year.
"It is critically important that youths' voices are heard," Mayor Lisa Jacobson said. "It is important our youth have opportunities to learn and be with other positive adults in the community."