Times are changing, and youth want to take part. Which is what Youth Will is all about, said Thomas Konrad of University City, who is in the vanguard of the new civic-minded group.
A regional organization uniting young people to drive the changes they seek, Youth Will’s objective is to ensure youth are adequately represented in all future governmental decision-making.
"It's crucial for us as a youth community to organize because it's the critical step to ensuring that we are not a forgotten, an invisible community to policymakers,” says Youth Will’s mission statement.
Konrad, who handles policy and organizing for nonprofit Youth Will, said the immediate goal is “to engage youth around the city in doing transformative systems change, from helping plan where money is allocated publicly, to determining how our neighborhoods and our transportation systems are constructed.”
Added Konrad, “Historically, youth have not been a part of that conversation, have not been able to have their voices heard. What we’re [Youth Will] about is mobilizing to really change that, make it so that, as San Diego grows and big changes happen, youth are engaged and not marginalized.”
How will that be accomplished?
“It’s not simple,” admitted Konrad. “It really will be through experience in creating a collective voice, and in mobilizing in numbers showing youth want to be given space to really be part of the conversation about the priorities of San Diego. By us taking those steps, we can get a seat at the table.”
Youth Will has developed a collective shared vision for a better future embodied in a “Youth Bill of Rights,” SB 18, Bill of Rights for the Children and Youth of California. The bill would declare the intent, by Jan. 1, 2022, to enact legislation ensuring that SB 18 is applied evenly, equitably and appropriately to all children and youth across the state.
Konrad said Youth Will’s game plan is to divide the city up into five districts comprising “a whole ecosystem,” then mobilize youth in those communities. He said the group is presently working on developing a holistic youth “master plan” that actually “puts youth’s voice at the center in speaking to the needs of San Diego.”
Concluded Konrad, “There’s a lot of moving parts to this. What we’d like to have is a road map for youth to use in San Diego.”
For more information, visit youthwill.org.