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How a new program at Nashua City Hall aims to give students a voice in local government

City of Nashua

Nashua is launching a new program to give students a voice in local government.

The Mayor’s Youth Council is open to students between the ages of 14 and 20, regardless of political affiliation or experience. The goal is to offer real-world experience developing leadership skills and learning how to engage in activism that changes policy.

The idea was brought to city officials by Asma Akbar, who is attending Suffolk University and interning with the mayor’s office. Akbar said she is excited to invite students from local middle and high schools, especially those from diverse backgrounds, to be part of this experience in the midst of a new election for state representatives.

Akbar said students will have the opportunity to connect with the mayor and other city officials in both formal and informal settings — from working closely on policy discussions to gathering over ice cream.

“Just having those connections put[s] the youth in the conversation,” she said.

Officials at Nashua City Hall want to develop a program that can last, and they said input from students on what they want to see in the city in the upcoming years will be vital.

Kathleen Palmer, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office, said city officials want young people to know how powerful they can be, especially during an election year. She said local elections are the door to policy change and they want students, especially students of color, to know that door is open.

“This is where we can start to make a change that can be elevated to state and federal levels,” she said. “I think young people can spread the word to get involved and advocate for what they think is important.”

The council will meet at Nashua City Hall every two weeks between June 23 and August 31. The city notes that participants will be responsible for their own transportation, but the bus fare for students on the Nashua Transit Service is 75 cents.

Applications for the council are due June 20. To apply, students have to fill out a form on the City of Nashua website and write a short paragraph about why they would be interested in this council.

Gabriela Lozada is a Report for America corps member. Her focus is on Latinx community with original reporting done in Spanish for ¿Qué hay de Nuevo NH?.
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