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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 7 Youth Councilor Joy Kunda

Age: 18 

Pronouns: He/Him/His

School: Framingham High

Framingham District: 7

Favorite subject in school: English 

Favorite book: Americanah

Favorite musical artist: Pink Sweat, Lewis Capaldi, Kanye West

Last thing you streamed: Watched the movie “What Happened To Monday” 

Favorite fun activity: Escape room 

ZOOM happy or ZOOM fatigued? Zoom fatigued

Hobbies: Hanging out with friends, Baking

Favorite place in Framingham: Saxonville Mills Café

10 years from now I want to be (career): Business owner

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Why did you want to be a Youth Council member? To represent the youth of Framingham and make positive change. 

Do you think there is a divide in the City of Framingham?  If yes, how can it be fixed? If no, why not?   A divide on what exactly? On right and wrong? On changes that would provide a fair chance to all by creating a welcoming environment for all students to learn which does not exist today? If you’re talking about creating a welcoming environment at school for all students, I believe there are a few who are being misled by false information, but I don’t believe there is a divide if we all take the time to educate ourselves about the changes that we are seeking. I believe most people will choose right over wrong, but understanding what’s right and what’s wrong is where the divide might be. We need to stop asking IF this divide exists and understand the right question is WHY does it exist? And what are the policies that can be changed to make this a better Framingham? 

The 13-member Framingham Youth Council represents the middle school, high school, and college-age students. What is the biggest issue facing youth in Framingham in 2021? Each generation has its own unique challenges. The biggest issue facing the youth in our city in 2021 I’d say surrounds mental health. After having had almost a year of remote learning which has been really hard on a lot of students, it’s challenging transitioning back into full-time in person. Loss of motivation, I’d say is a big challenge that those who are still remote face. 

How can the Youth Council encourage more youths ages 13-22 to become engaged in government and their community? Paid internships could be something that would get more youth interested in joining. Also, providing them enough resources in which they will benefit from. 

What person has inspired you the most? How? My parents. Their hard work inspires me every day.  

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Adults just don’t understand The fact that it is not easy to be a teenager in today’s society. 

If money was not an issue, what would make life better for the youths in the city? (Editor’s Note: left blank)

Describe Framingham in 3 words: Changing, Historic, Fun 

Framingham is missing  Diversity of school administrators at Framingham Public Schools & mental health resources for youths 

It would be great if The public/other youths would attend a Youth Council meeting to discuss their views on what they think are critical issues young people are facing. 

What have you learned as a member of the Youth Council?  I have learned a lot about the structures of our city government and how it works.  

What do you want to accomplish on the Youth Council before you leave? Make the youth summit happen

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.