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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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At-Large Youth Councilor Gabryela Dias

Age: 15

Pronouns: she/her

School: Keefe Technical

Framingham District: 9

Favorite subject in school: Science 

Favorite book: Swing by Kwame Alexander

Favorite musical artist: Day6

Last thing you streamed: Overly Sarcastic Productions

Favorite fun activity:  Crochet 

ZOOM happy or ZOOM fatigued? Zoom fatigued

Hobbies (pick up to 3): Sewing, drawing, Crochet

Favorite place in Framingham:  Cushing Memorial Park

10 years from now I want to be (career) an electrical engineer

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Why did you want to be a Youth Council member? Because I wanted to learn a bit more about how government works, and I wanted to explore while maybe making a difference.

Do you think there is a divide in the City of Framingham?  If yes, how can it be fixed? If no, why not? I’m not sure, because I believe that both sides of the city have access to similar resources when it comes to things like libraries, schools, and other public services. But I can’t be sure of other’s experiences with this topic.

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 think the biggest issue for the youth in Framingham is the mental strain brought on by the pandemic. It causes so many struggles both social and financial.

How can the Youth Council encourage more youths ages 13-22 to become engaged in government and their community?
I think that just making sure that the word gets out that there is a Youth Council. And making sure that everyone hears of when new spots become available is the main way.

What person has inspired you the most? How?
I think my parents are my biggest inspirations. They do so much for me and showed me such good examples, they work hard and make me want to make them proud.

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Adults just don’t understand
that the pressures that are on today’s youth is often wildly different,  but still equal to the ones placed on them when they were young.

If money was not an issue, what would make life better for the youths in the city?
I think the best thing to do for youth in the city if money was not an option is making improvements on the schools. I know that the school system is always doing the best it can but there is always something more to improve. 

Describe Framingham in 3 words:
diverse, home, growing

Framingham is missing
another or at least a bigger high school.

What have you learned as a member of the Youth Council?  I’ve learned alot more about how government actually works. It’s a lot easier to understand why things are the way they are in government now.

What do you want to accomplish on the Youth Council before you leave?
I want to raise more awareness for the fact that Framingham has a Youth Council, so that the kids who are interested in learning about things like government and having experience in it can get their chance.

Editor’s note: Dias chose not to submit a photo for the Q&A profile.

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.