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Pelham student named to Niagara Regional Youth Council |

Regional President Jim Bradley’s Niagara Region Youth Advisory Committee held its inaugural meeting in late November, where it welcomed, via Zoom, representatives from all 12 local sub-municipalities.

Natalie Anderson, a 12th grader at EL Crossley, was online as a representative for Pelham, as was Diana Hesson, Pelham’s elected regional advisor directly. But the two did not meet face to face until last Saturday, when they spoke with The Voice at Meridian Community Center.

“I hope this board will expose me to greater diversity, and make me more aware of the different groups in Niagara,” Anderson said. “I am really looking forward to getting to know the other student members, as we are like-minded. It would be great to connect with them and discuss issues like equity and inclusion in the district.”

Anderson said she’s more passionate about environmental causes like recycling, but she also sees mental health as a topic that needs more attention.

Anderson, who is also a member of the Student Council at Crossley and serves as prime minister on the Pelham Youth Advisory Council, said the first meeting was an orientation on how the regional government should operate. In addition, she holds a part-time job at Sobeys, is a member of the school’s curling team, plays the flute in Crosley’s bands and concerts.

Anderson applied for medical sciences at Brock, Western, Queen’s, and McMaster for admission in September 2022.

Her grandfather was Lloyd Beamer of Beamer’s Hardware, an old retail store on Pelham Street. Natalie’s father, Doug, works in the store.

Hassoun said that about 60 applications have been received for the 12 positions in the youth committee.

Many of them had student council backgrounds in their schools, and most were politically oriented. “They’re a really cool group of kids,” Husson, who has been a vocal advocate for more diverse voices, including youth voices, said in the regional government dialogue.

In addition to taking a great interest in the environment, Huson said she has noticed a lot of concern about mental health, and how it affects Niagara youth.

that An area that particularly deserves a youth contribution, Hosson said, is the regional transit.

“The district recently voted to hold the Niagara transit responsible,” she said. “Two of the delegates who gave presentations were the presidents of the student unions at Brock and Niagara College, and we also had a representative of the Aboriginal people talking about the importance of transit to their people, as well as the racially affected population. The student presentations were very moving.”

Students, particularly in rural areas, can commute for extended periods of time to access classrooms and part-time jobs, Huson said, who also noted that many of them take on additional family responsibilities, such as caring for siblings, and helping care for elderly loved ones.

“I want to hear Natalie’s voice, because that’s the whole point of the committee,” Hassoun said. “My advice to her? Don’t be shy or hesitate to contribute to meetings. You are there for a reason.”

The Youth Advisory Committee was developed to provide the regional president and council with fresh perspective on matters affecting youth across the region.

The primary role of the team is to advise on policies, programs and services, identify gaps and barriers, and suggest ideas to increase youth participation in regional programs and services.

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