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FRAMINGHAM – The Framingham City Council unanimously voted to create a Youth Council in 2019. The 13-member Youth Council was created after then Framingham High senior Isabella Petroni wrote an ordinance asking the legislative branch of the City to change the Charter to create a committee focused on the city’s youthssimilar to the Council on Aging which is focused on the City’s senior citizens.

The Youth Council is comprised of four at-large youths — two appointed by the at-large City Councilors and two by the Mayor for 2-year terms — and nine district Youth Councilors, appointed by their district counterpart on the City Council for a 1-year term.

The Youth Council created its own rules in its first session, and learned about how the city operates, inviting the Mayor, the Framingham Public School Superintendent, the School Committee Chair, and several City Councilors to its meetings.

The Youth Council had planned to host a Youth Summit in 2020, but plans were put on hold due to the COVID pandemic.

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The Youth Council meets typically on Sundays twice a month, and has five subcommittees.

The Council this session has proposed ordinances on voting age and menustral products, taken positions on several issues including gun violenceBelknap pool, and focused on mental health, school re-opening plans, and social justice issues.

The Council has also held sessions with State Rep. Jack Patrick Lewis, Rep. Maria Robinson, Keefe Tech Superintendent Jonathan Evans and Framingham Superintendent Bob Tremblay this second session.

As the Youth Council has not been able to hold its planned youth summit yet or conduct outreach & engagement in-person, SOURCE asked each Youth Councilor to participate in a Q&A to introduce them to the community. The Q&A sessions will publish this month.

The City Council will be taking applications for the third session of the Youth Council later this spring with appointments to start on July 1, 2021 and to end on June 30, 2022. Framingham youths from middle school, high school, and college, ages 13-22 can apply.

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District 4 Youth Councilor Ashwina Bangari

Age: 14

Pronouns: she/her/hers

School: Framingham High

Framingham District: 4

Favorite subject in school: Math or Biology

Favorite book: Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Favorite musical artist: Conan Gray and SZA 

Last thing you streamed: The Taylor Swift re-records

Favorite fun activity: Spending time with my friends!

ZOOM happy or ZOOM fatigued? A bit of both!

Hobbies: swimming, baking, and reading

Favorite place in Framingham: The Framingham Center 

10 years from now I want to be (career): Research in a STEM field or business/finance

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Why did you want to be a Youth Council member? I wanted to be a Youth Council member because I want to contribute to the growth of Framingham. 

Do you think there is a divide in the City of Framingham?  If yes, how can it be fixed? If no, why not?  Like any other city, Framingham has its issues but I think with the effort from the Youth Council and the other committees and councils in Framingham we can work to mend these divisions. 

The 13-member Framingham Youth Council represents middle school, high school, and college-age students. What is the biggest issue facing youth in Framingham in 2021? I’d say mental health is probably the largest issue for youth. Being isolated in this pandemic definitely didn’t help with that. 

How can the Youth Council encourage more youths ages 13-22 to become engaged in government and their community? 
We can encourage the youth to become more involved through more outreach programs in Framingham as well as giving them more information about the local government and how to get involved. 

What person has inspired you the most? How? I’d say my dad inspires me the most, he’s definitely one of my biggest role models and he always encourages me to step up and become a leader. 

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Adults just don’t understand social media and the impact it has on us as youth. 

If money was not an issue, what would make life better for the youths in the city? More free public spaces!

Describe Framingham in 3 words: diverse, adaptable, and lively

Framingham is missing more family-friendly opportunities in the community. 

It would be great if more educators would attend a Youth Council meeting to discuss how to effectively inform students of their opportunities. 

What have you learned as a member of the Youth Council?  I’ve learned that I can make an impact on my community if I step up and I’ve learned a lot about the municipal government. 

What do you want to accomplish on the Youth Council before you leave? I want to inspire the youth in Framingham to step up in the local government and I want to see more mental health support. 

By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.