Making Millennials Matter

Hamilton’s plan to promote youth involvement in the city

By: Greg Loerts, Student Senate President

        The Hamilton Youth Strategy is proving that Hamilton is investing in its future, and is an incredible way to get youth organizations involved in Hamilton. So, what is this plan? The short answer is that it’ s going to get youth organizations targeted for 14-29-year-olds collaborating city-wide to truly make Hamilton a truly youth friendly city. Jesse Williamson, the project manager for the Hamilton Youth Strategy, had the long answer:

       “The hope is to create a collaborative plan for the next five years,” Williamson says, talking about how good Hamilton already is at caring for its youth, and how there are a lot of great organizations doing great work throughout the city.“[There is] a lot of great collaboration going on, but it’s happening in pockets and silos around specific fields.” Williamson hopes that this initiative helps groups coordinate and target neglected areas of Hamilton, and the City of Hamilton is all for making this plan work.

       The project sounds interesting, but the scale that the Hamilton Youth Strategy is trying to reach is staggering. According to Williamson, 103 unique organizations around the city have been contacted, with 82 of those already committing to be a part of this and providing data and input on the improvements Hamilton can make to its youth-centric vision.

      Redeemer University has been invited to play a part in this as well, although that part is still to be decided. Early 2018, Jesse Williamson met with student representatives from Redeemer’s Student Senate to discuss if Redeemer would want to get involved. Student Senate was all for it. Redeemer has partnered with the City of Hamilton to help in the planning phase basically figuring out the areas of Hamilton that need some additional care and Redeemer is continuing to be involved with this project to help make Hamilton a better place.

      The Hamilton Youth strategy isn’t something run by adults, either. Williamson has had a focus on a “from youth, for youth” mentality. “Adults and youth should share decision making,” he says. “ This youth strategy is going to be the voice of young people in the city.” This isn’t meant to be some sort of top-down bureaucratic initiative; rather, it’s a way for youth in Hamilton to get involved in making their city better. Williamson wants youth to be a part of the process. “We’re all ears. We’re listening loud and clear. We want to understand what your struggles are so we can better equip you.”

    Redeemer’s Student Senate, on top of partnering and keeping in touch with the Hamilton Youth Strategy, has also sent a representative to the planning committee; Alyssa Zilney, a fourth-year international development major. Zilney had nothing but good things to say about the committee’s meeting, and she especially loved the openness and effort to gather all elements of the Youth Community in Hamilton. The opportunity to promote the Christian voice within Hamilton, especially to youth, is one that’s too good to pass up.

     A big part of what the Hamilton Strategic Youth Initiative is trying to do centers around recognizing and encouraging the multicultural and diverse nature of Hamilton. “The coolest part for me was how many different perspectives there were,” says Zilney. From Muslim groups to McMaster and Mohawk representatives, to the youth coordinator for the YMCA, the range of people in the meeting was huge, all with one goal: to connect with youth, and to better Hamilton.

   So, how can students be involved? The Hamilton Youth Strategy’s website launched recently, where you can find a bunch of cool opportunities to share and get involved. Right now,students can fill out a survey – it’s a small little questionnaire which really gives Hamilton youth a voice in this process. Redeemer Student Senate will start posting cool and exciting opportunities for students to get involved. Get involved; young or old, everyone can help make Hamilton the youth-friendly capital of Canada.