Youth in Governance

What do we mean by “Youth in Governance?”

Young people and adults working together in positions of authority to make decisions and take action to strengthen organizations, communities, and our democratic society. See more in our report.

What about Anchorage?

On September, 12, 2017, the Anchorage Assembly adopted an ordinance to add a Youth Representative seat to the Anchorage Assembly. The Anchorage Youth Advisory Commission is now in the process of working to recruit, interview, and recommend a representative and alternate for the Assembly to Adopt.

Why is it important?

In 2016, there were nearly 300,000 people in Anchorage, with nearly 74,000 young people under the age of 18–that’s nearly 25% of all residents! These young people cannot vote, but civic decisions impact their lives directly. It’s time to foster meaningful engagement of youth to not only inform but improve local government and develop engaged citizens.

In general, perspectives and input from young people are not often included in public decision making. Without a clear way to make young people’s views heard, they are not able to see how government works or gain political experience, and communities lose meaningful insight to form policy, including many policies and budget decisions that impact the lives of young people. But we can change that!

AYDC Youth in Governance Report

AYDC prepared a brief (10 page) report about best practices for youth in governance, and include examples from across the country and in Alaska to highlight success stories.

Additional Resources:

(Photos from the Anchorage Youth Advisory Commission Facebook page).

Benefits of Youth in Governance:
  • Youth Voice and Representation: Youth have a voice in decisions that affect them, and a forum to ask questions, speak their minds, and influence local politics.
  • Positive Youth Development: It promotes positive outcomes among youth, including the development of life skills, networking skills, and civic responsibility.
  • Civic Development: Our society is strengthened when youth become informed and thoughtful citizens. Young people develop skills, knowledge, commitment, and experience to become full members of our community and take political action.
  • Better-Informed Policies: Youth bring new perspectives, energy, and compassion to boards that better inform discussion, decisions, and policies that influence the betterment of the community.
  • Mutual Respect: Adults and youth alike gain a newfound appreciation for each other and stronger connections.
  • Future Leaders: Leadership skills are developed most deeply in adolescence and young adulthood, so engagement through critical thinking, planning, decision-making, and group dynamic experiences all work together to shape our city’s future leaders. Getting young people involved in local governments gives them a stake in their communities.