Young people in our city increasingly face a lack of hope. Many find themselves in difficult and discouraging situations, leading to a limited understanding of available opportunities and perceptions of a bleak future. Building a brighter future for our youth requires city leaders to engage the extensive resources within our city to develop programs that emphasize hope and stability.
As your councilmember, I will:
- Partner with nonprofits and businesses to expand successful programs.
- Empower youth through life skills and trade programs.
- Address the youth homelessness and mental health crisis.
Partner with nonprofits and businesses to expand successful programs.
Collaboration and partnership with key stakeholders – including the Port of Tacoma, the YMCA, nonprofits, and small and large businesses – will be crucial in developing these programs. By building a comprehensive network, we can better connect our youth with existing programs and services to expand their exposure to pathways that lead to a financially stable future. Critically, city partnerships with established community leaders will also help develop new – and improved – programs for our youth.
The city cannot undertake this effort alone. We must partner with experts and provide equitable access to our youth.
Empower youth through life skills and trade programs.
New programs must provide our youth with more knowledge of, and exposure to, career paths available in Pierce County. Programs must allow participants to gain work experience, empowering our youth with valuable life skills. We can best facilitate the development of these programs by partnering with businesses willing to engage middle and high school students with services like in-class presentations, internships/mentorships, and participation in existing career days.
For the best possible outcome, the individuals who engage with students should be familiar with the issues the students might be facing either because they are from that community themselves or a similar community. Where that cannot be achieved, we will look to the schools to inform the business participants about common issues for that particular student population.
Well-established after-school and before-school programs have successfully provided opportunities for students to learn essential life skills and expose our youth to our area’s natural resources. These programs offer community-centered activities that encourage our youth to follow pathways for success. We must expand successful after-school and before-school programs – like those at Hilltop Heritage Middle School – to other Tacoma schools.
We must also recognize the importance of trade school routes in helping our youth on a pathway to success. Partnering with nonprofit organizations and business associations will allow our city to increase investments in programs encouraging and supporting trade school routes for all students, including those at risk. Investments will include scholarships for trade school and apprenticeship programs and promoting the value and viability of trade careers.
Address the youth homelessness and mental health crisis.
Finally, addressing youth homelessness must be a priority. Our city must allocate resources to address mental health and substance abuse, two issues often impacting our youth, especially those experiencing homelessness. We must also establish dedicated shelters for youth experiencing homelessness that provide a safe place for refuge while offering opportunities for education, job skill development, and the ability to seek employment.