Westhill High School now has a Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council.
“MYLC is all about empowerment of young people on the level of activism to the extent of developing campaigns, public awareness, as well as creating social change,” says Jason Steer, program coordinator of the Westhill Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council.
After a successful eight years at Stamford High School, Steer says it was time to bring the program to the students of Westhill.
“Westhill had, in the last four years had four suicides. That’s something that caught a lot of people’s attention and that’s part of why MYLC was introduced,” says Steer. “They really felt that by teens having more of a voice, it would have a bigger impact on their school.
“Like anywhere else, there’s going to be some people that can make a difference and I thought this organization would be one of these groups that could actually make a difference,” says Westhill MYLC member Austin Nardi.
“ I think that are school had a lot of tragedies throughout our years and everyone kept saying ‘we need to make a difference, we need to make a difference, something has to change’ and nothing has changed,” says member Julia Dibiccari. “And I think that this is the change that our school really needs.”
The six students selected for the council’s executive board started working on that change at one of their first weekly Wednesday night meetings. Their first goal? To identify a social issue at the school.
“We’ve developed a survey that we’re going to promote or send out to all the students within Westhill,” says Steer. “And hopefully when we review and collect all that data, we’ll know what their main issue is and what that main social issue that they would like us to address.”
The group will host their first event on Valentine’s Day by passing out candy a long with a special message from the council.
“You want to start a conversation with someone and just address them and say that you’re out there,” says member Nastasja Haughton.
Steer says, “This is kind of like their first step into activism to get them going when it comes to them being involved and being comfortable engaging with their peers, as well as promoting, if you will, love.”