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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 9 Youth Councilor Gaina Jean-Pierre

Age: 17

Pronouns: She/her 

School: Framingham High

Framingham District: District 9

Favorite subject in school: History 

Favorite book: The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Favorite musical artist: Giveon, Drake and WizKid

Last thing you streamed: Becoming 

Favorite fun activity:  go-kart racing 

ZOOM happy or ZOOM fatigued? A little bit of both but mostly Zoom fatigued

Hobbies: Baking, journaling and hanging out with friends 

Favorite place in Framingham:  J&M Diner 

10 years from now I want to be (career) A Therapist for Children and Adolescents

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Why did you want to be a Youth Council member? I applied to join the Youth Council because I wanted to be more involved in my cities government and wanted to advocate for BIPOC youth. 

Do you think there is a divide in the City of Framingham?  If yes, how can it be fixed? If no, why not?  Yes I believe there continues to be a divide in Framingham. We could start off by understanding the reason for the divide, and follow from there. 

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? There is so many important issues facing youth today, but mental health is definitely one of the most important. Mental health impacts all three age groups of students, and it’s necessary for us to foresee this issue. 

How can the Youth Council encourage more youths ages 13-22 to become engaged in government and their community? We can encourage youth by letting them know they have a voice for change, and educating them on the system of local government. Maybe also creating internships and opportunities that are hands on. 

What person has inspired you the most? How? My mother because she is always helping someone out and is very giving person. 

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Adults just don’t understand how stressful it is being a teenager in this era of time. 

If money was not an issue, what would make life better for the youths in the city? Hiring more mental health workers including BIPOC therapist and investing in after school or outreach programs/clubs. 

Describe Framingham in 3 words: Historical, Multicultural and Blissfully Ignorant 

Framingham is missing diversity in school administration and fun activities for youth.  

It would be great if Superintendents would attend a Youth Council meeting to discuss how they will create diversity in their schools such as in teachers and administration. 

What have you learned as a member of the Youth Council?  The process of local government and taking minutes. 

What do you want to accomplish on the Youth Council before you leave? Getting more youth who are interested in government to join, so they can voice their demands!

Editor’s Note: The District 9 Youth Councilor did not submit a photo

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.