Middle Main

A neighborhood just a little off center

City offers young people forum to express concerns

After-school programs. Jobs. Public transportation.

Those were just some of the topics young people brought up this week during the first gathering of City of Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik's Mayor's Youth Council,
which is set to meet again March 23. "We want young people to know they also have a voice
here in the city," Tkazyik said. "And it's an opportunity for us to
listen to them and for them to express themselves." Officials said a dozen young people attended
Tuesday's Youth Council session at City Hall. Councilman Ralph Coates,
D-2nd Ward, and Dory Marcinelli from the Police Department's Juvenile
Division also took part. Improving
programs for young people has become a key issue in recent years —
especially following the 2009 closure of the city-based Dutchess County
YMCA.


Concerns about youth violence have also increased as the city has dealt with a spike in shootings over the past several years — many involving young
adults. Police have responded with increased patrols and other measures. Officials said
feedback from students who took part in the first council session was
positive. "I think
the mayor is moving in the right direction by starting this Youth
Council," Shavon Ashe, a Poughkeepsie High School junior, said in a
release from Tkazyik's office. "I feel that by him asking the youth of
Poughkeepsie what our concerns are about our community, we will be able
to make a change for the better and stop all the negativity that is
around us." Jodeci
Brown, another student at the school, said he is glad officials are
reaching out to young people. "As a graduating senior, I believe the city is
attempting to listen to us and is now really taking our concerns and
recommendations seriously," Brown said in the release. "We need more
chances and opportunities because, outside of school, we have nothing." Tkazyik said the
council will allow his administration to have an ongoing dialogue with
young people. "I
understand that today's youth believe that they are misunderstood,"
Tkazyik said. "I am trying to listen to their concerns and let them know
that I believe that they are important as future leaders of our
community. Poughkeepsie's youth are smart, capable people and should be
given credit for their accomplishments." Tkazyik first mentioned the possibility of forming a
Youth Council in 2008. Applications to serve on it were made available
last year following a series of city-sponsored community summits on gun
violence.


"I'm thankful these young people answered the call," Tkazyik said.

-- http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/article/20100312/NEWS01/3120327/...

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