FRAMINGHAM – Isabella Petroni, 19, was re-elected chair of the Framingham Youth Council.
She was the City’s youngest chair when elected the Youth Council’s first chair at age 17 in July 2019.
The 13-member Youth Council re-elected the Framingham High graduate to her second term as chair in a 10-0 vote on Sunday night.
The Council also unanimously re-elected Framingham High sophomore Chloe Mills as vice chair for a second term.
District 5 City Councilor Robert Case oversaw the election of chair and vice chair at the Zoom meeting on Sunday night.
Both the new chair and vice chair expressed the importance to focus on mental health in the coming year.
“In my first speech as Youth Council chair I discuss the importance of Mental Health among our youths – I discussed those I have known who tried and succeeded in killing themselves as teens. During this pandemic, the mental concerns raised in my last election speech have only increased. COVID-19 has exposed the scars of our system. It has shown what has been lying beneath the surface and out of sight and out of mind for many people. More teens are facing mental health issues due to the isolation of the pandemic,” said Petroni.
“The mental health crisis is slated to get worse for many Americans, and especially for all Americans of our generation. COVID-19 has caused schools to be upended, social interactions in person to be effectively cancelled, and has shaken up the home lives of many kids whether experiencing abuse or having a parent lose their job. We have to do better for the youth of Framingham who are suffering due to COVID and recognize that this is not a time to wallow in guilt and despair, but a time to stand up and correct the wrongs in the world. We must advocate for better mental health services for everyone, not just those who can afford. No matter your race, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, disability status, or immigrant status, mental health services should be considered a right provided to them by the government, not a privilege,” said Petroni
“One of my reasons I am seeking re-election as chair is the chance to finish what I started as chair of the first-ever Youth Council. As many of you who are continuing members know, the Youth Council didn’t get the opportunity to do many of the things it wanted to accomplish. While it allowed for the new Youth Councilors to engage with their local government, it didn’t allow for us to accomplish anything beyond this. We had many plans, but they never came to fruition due to COVID. We were planning on seeking input from the youth of Framingham via the first-ever Framingham Youth Summit, an idea I proposed to bring the City’s youth together to create goals and to interact with city leaders. We were working on partnering with other local organizations such as the Framingham Library Homework Center to collaborate on a Multicultural Fair. We were also working on partnering with the local schools, specifically the McAuliffe Charter School, to accept their research on social issues here in Framingham. But as previously said, COVID didn’t allow for any of that. But, we have a chance to move forward. Now the Framingham Youth Council needs to pivot, and make changes to bring the youth voice to City & state leaders remotely. I can lead the Youth Council to do that. The Youth Council is not just a place to hear from the lawmakers of Framingham or a chance to actually practice a form of local government. It is the platform in which Framingham youth can allow themselves to get a seat at the table on conversations that either affects them and/or ones that are important to them,” said Petroni.
“As the chair and leader of the Youth Council I want to work with ALL – and I mean all of you — to make sure your issues are heard by City leaders. I will help guide each of you through the ordinance process to create legislation in our City of Framingham so that your issues are brought to the table and acted on. I want all the issues of our Youth Council members and all the issues of our city’s youth to be known, heard, and action taken,” said Petroni in her speech Sunday.
Editor’s Note: In full transparency, Isabella Petroni is my daughter.