Teens get city voice

What happens when students approach a Common Council member asking how they can help? They could get

What happens when students approach a Common Council member asking how they can help? They could get appointed to a committee.

That’s what happened to Amsterdam High School senior Caitlin Bartman when she asked Alderman William Wills, D-4th Ward, how she could become involved.

With Wills’ help, Bartman formed a Youth Advisory Council last year. Bartman said the previous Common Council didn’t really help teens accomplish much. She said the youth group was new and spent time becoming acquainted with the political process and figuring out how to proceed.

Under the new Common Council that took office last month, Bartman is determined to accomplish something before she graduates from high school. Three previous youth committee members, Amsterdam High School seniors Bartman, David Bosques and Evelyn Marrero, were reappointed. Two new members, freshmen Everett Flint and Alyssa Baldizon, were added Tuesday.

Bartman said the advisory council’s role is to advocate for youth. She said she believes there isn’t a lot for youngsters to do in Amsterdam and she’d like to change that.

“We want to make this place more appealing to the younger generations. There aren’t enough activities or organizations for us to participate in,” Bartman said.

Bartman says the city’s decision-makers usually hear about young people only when they are in trouble.

“They know we’re here because they hear about us in the paper, but usually because we are getting in trouble,” she said.

Wills, who is acting as the advisory council’s liaison, also wants to help make the city more inviting to youngsters. By doing so, he said he believes some of the city’s problems involving youth, such as vandalism, can be curbed.

“A main complaint in the city of Amsterdam is that there isn’t enough for kids to do,” Wills said. “Unless they are actively involved in one or two sports or band or something like that, the majority of them just hang around and, unfortunately, some of them get in trouble because they are mischievous and they are just kids.”

Wills said the advisory council will also be tapped by city leaders for opinions about any issue that could involve children, including recreational activities and parks development.

Recreation Director Robert Spagnola said he is encouraged to see the youth becoming involved with the city. Spagnola said he would encourage the advisory council to attend the monthly recreation commission meetings.

“It’s definitely a good idea,” Spagnola said. “We can always use some input from kids in the high school to come up with good ideas about things they’d like to see in the parks.”

Bartman had an idea to host a winter festival this year, but so far the weather has been uncooperative.

“We wanted to try a winter festival, but take a look outside. We have a better chance of water skiing,” Wills said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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