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Politics and Government

Youth council members want less crime, better education in Syracuse

Tom Magnarelli
Syracuse Councilor Joe Nicoletti talks with members of the city's youth council.

Syracuse’s Youth Council, a group of young people learning how the city’s government works, sat in on their first Common Council meeting in March. The youth council is expected to recommend topics the Common Council should take action on.

Allana Moore is a freshman at the Public Service Leadership Academy at Fowler High School in Syracuse. She said she joined the Youth Council because the problems in the city are critical. She lives on the west side of Syracuse and said she has seen a lot of violence in her area.

“I don't think that is how any child should be raised, so I really want to improve that," Moore said. "Children can barely even play on a porch and be outside. I really want to change that. I want children to be involved in outside activities and participate in community activities.”

Ahmed Shaalan is a senior at Corcoran High School. He came to the U.S. four years ago from Syria. While on the Youth Council he said he wants to focus on education and the school-to-prison pipeline.

“At schools where there are a lot of minorities, they’re being expelled in high numbers and leading to them dropping out and going to prison,” Shaalan said.

There are 11 members of the Youth Council and five alternates. They watched the Syracuse Common Council discuss and vote on agenda items at a regular meeting. Councilor Jean Kessner said the idea is for them to learn the process but also to add input on youth-related topics.

“That’s what their expertise is and it’s not an expertise that belongs to people when they get to be 40 years old and up,” Kessner said.

The Youth Council will continue meeting for the rest of the school year and new members are expected to take their place in the fall.