Our Opinion: Getting young people involved in Pittsfield

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Young people believe they are not listened to and their elders believe that when they are heard it is for all the wrong reasons. This gap is certainly not unique to Pittsfield but its existence in the city can perhaps be narrowed by the newly revived city Youth Commission.

The 21-member commission, which includes both adults and youths, had its first meeting Thursday. It’s encouraging that so many residents wanted to serve that Mayor Daniel Bianchi decided to create a larger Youth Coalition to involve more people (Eagle, Sept. 11). The coalition will meet occasionally with the commission.

Pittsfield’s young people have long complained that there is not enough for them to do in the city, even though officials have worked to provide options over the years. The Youth Commission offers youth the opportunity to address this issue from the inside by offering suggestions and helping to execute them. They can also participate in issues like education, crime and teen pregnancy that impact young people without having to wait for mandates to be handed down to them by elected and appointed officials.

The demographic of Pittsfield and Berkshire County has been aging for many years, and changing that primarily involves creating and maintaining good jobs that attract young people. However, part of the process of keeping young people in the Berkshires involves giving them a vested interest in staying. In Pittsfield’s case, that means including them in city affairs, seeking their input and following through on their recommendations. In this fashion, the city can become a better place for all. The revived Youth Commission should play a key role in making young people see that they matter to the city and that they can have a future here.

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