Name: Eddie Mercado
From: Lowell, MA
So far, Council members have worked on getting the Council to run more smoothly. During this year, we worked on creating a youth summit that would kick off with issues that trigger everything, such as gang violence, education, drug abuse, etc. These are things that are not easy but are possible to change. What I'm getting out of the Youth Council is a chance to help others and create positive change for the Commonwealth, as well as the opportunity to better educate myself on how government is run.
Name: Brianna Busby
From: Wareham, MA
There have been many meetings in which Council members were able to meet and ask questions of representatives from various state agencies that deal with youth-related issues. These meetings have been invaluable in that we now have knowledge of who to contact with regard to any youth-related issues, and these agencies now know that there is a Governor's Statewide Youth Council.
Since I have been on the Council, I have also attended the Public Narrative training with Marshall Ganz, where I learned the art of public narrative that has benefited me in terms of talking to youth groups in my community. I have also attended the special screening of HBO's "The Black List" in which Governor Patrick and other African-American professionals expressed their struggles and their accomplishments.
Recently, we worked on the Youth Summit, held this October. The Summit addressed education, jobs, teen pregnancy, and gang violence issues, as well as serving as the kick-off for the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP). It is our hope that over the next 10 years, the youth of Massachusetts will become sufficiently empowered and that the goals set forth in our agenda will have been accomplished.
It has been an honor being a member of the Governor's Statewide Youth Council and I look forward to continuing my term. It has been very rewarding to see that efforts are being made to help the youth in Massachusetts and that I am able to be apart of it all.
Name: Louisa Wilde Carman
From: Stockbridge, MA
We first need to focus on making it safe for youth to walk down the streets without being mugged, and to ensure that every student will receive an acceptable education. Although my original objectives have not been the center of attention on this Council, I feel that we are making progress that will positively influence the youth in our state. This has been an incredible experience, and I know that it will only become richer as the Council evolves.
Name: Jose Rodrigues
From: Stoughton, MA
In my junior year at high school, I learned from my Spanish teacher about the Governor's Statewide Youth Council. At the last minute, I reluctantly applied, feeling nervous and certain that they would not pick me. My acceptance, however, affirmed what I believed was right. During our first meetings, I hesitated to show who I truly was because I was nervous that I would not be accepted. After the first couple of encounters, I realized that we were all alike and that this was a diverse group of individuals that I could get along with. At our second or third meeting, the Council members took over and decided that we wanted control of the meetings. From that, I saw that the group was ready to take action and make a difference in today's society. The involvement of some of the other members has also inspired me to become more involved. I'm committed to this group, and I can only hope that I can inspire others to also become involved and to make the necessary effort to make a difference.
Name: Stanley Narcisse
From: Haverhill, MA
I was introduced to the Youth Council through an adult mentor. My first thought was that I didn't have a chance of being selected because my resume wasn't good enough to qualify me for this opportunity. I've since witnessed a dramatic change in myself. First, I've grown intellectually and spiritually, and have been exposed to issues such as civics. Second, I've acquired a better understanding of people and my peers. I've created new friendships with great people whom I would have never thought of encountering and feel as if I'm part of a family to whom I've grown close. I'm very humbled by the opportunity I've been given and am excited to be able to contribute as much as I can to the Council. I feel that we have a lot to offer and that we're going to create positive change in the Commonwealth.
Name: Lauren Logan
From: Cotuit, MA
One of my expectations was that we would try to include the voices of our peers who aren't civically engaged. We tend to overlook those who don't participate in organized school or community groups and those who are not voicing their opinions. We often forget that their voices matter too. The youth community in Massachusetts is composed of many different voices and opinions and the only way for us to define a common vision is to accept a diversity of views. The youth summit we hosted in October of this year represented the start of this goal.
I am extremely thankful to have been chosen as a member of the Governor's Statewide Youth Council because my experience as a Council member has widened my perspective of others' unique lifestyles. I believe I am now a more effective leader in my community because I have had the opportunity of learning how others lead and the ways in which they are different from me.
Name: Patrick Johnson
From: Brewster, MA
As members of this Council, many of us have had to overcome our fears. Some of us were too shy to stand in front of a group of our peers. Others had never before met someone who had been a gang member, or who had experienced abject poverty. What has come out of this is that a youth from Lawrence has developed a bond with another from Pittsfield, and a youth from Brewster with one from Springfield. In this way, the Youth Council has become a symbol of hope for the future of our Commonwealth - a future in which we are not bogged down by petty regional differences, but share a stake in the collective futures of our neighbors. Consequently, the livelihood of a youth in Methuen matters to a youth in Shrewsbury. No matter what else we may have accomplished, nothing can transcend the fact that we accomplished it with a spirit of unselfishness and common aspiration. It's not the seven meetings we've held or the activities and forums in which we've participated in that matter to us, it's the fact that we've created a model for people of all walks of life to work with a common purpose.
Name: Daniel Tassone
From: Pittsfield, MA
During our orientation session, each member told the story of his or her life, and explained what has shaped them into who they are today. Although each person's story was unique, they all ended with a unifying quality: the desire to make a difference. Our comfort with one another has ensured that we can discuss, debate, and compromise when tackling issues that afflict youth within the state.
At our first official meeting, I developed a considerable admiration for the adult facilitators. They had developed an agenda for us that laid out the topics we would discuss throughout the day. However, as the meeting moved forward, the Council members became frustrated with the structure and asked to develop a different meeting plan. Without hesitation, the facilitators gave us control over the day's events, and have continued to do so for each successive meeting. This level of adult trust in teenagers is rare, which is why the structure of the Council is especially innovative.
I never dreamed that we would accomplish so much in our first year. I imagined the time would be filled with endless brainstorming sessions or a never-ending quest for structure. Instead, I have watched the Council grow into a mature, focused group that is capable of tackling any issue. Over the past twelve months I have learned invaluable information about what constitutes a fair government body. It has become clear to me that a just democratic group does not only need a voting system, but that it is equally important for them to have an impartial forum where advocates of every position are able to speak their minds. Before joining the Council, I never realized the true importance of open communication in a government body. Although this process can sometimes prevent us from making quick decisions, I believe that our first year has effectively laid the foundations for what will be a vital body for years to come.