MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The Maplewood Township Committee invites diverse student residents of Maplewood who are enrolled in private or public school in grades eight through 12 to apply to serve on its new Youth Advisory Committee. In order to continue empowering local youth whose recent advocacy — on gun safety, safe schools, voting rights, immigration, greater institutional equity and inclusion, to name a few — has been inspiring, successful, and recognized throughout the state, and to ensure that youth voices and perspectives are included in local governance, the Township Committee is proud to offer Maplewood youth this exciting opportunity to continue being agents of change in their community.
“There has never been a better time to be a civically engaged youth in Maplewood or across the country nor has there been a better time in recent history to be led by our youth,” Committeeman Dean Dafis said in a release. “They are our present and our future. We must engage them and include them at the table. It is our duty to nurture emerging leadership as we make decisions about the future of our community.”
Dafis drafted the ordinance for the new committee and collaborated on the idea with Deputy Mayor Frank McGehee, SOMA Action Trustee Shannon Cuttle, students and youth groups.
“The future is now for our youth,” McGehee said in the release. “As they continue to make a positive impact in our community and beyond, our youth must be empowered with opportunities to advance their agenda, lead initiatives and enhance their voice and resources toward their dedication to serve all people and the greater good.”
Mayor Victor DeLuca was enthusiastic about the new committee from the start and mentored the creation of it throughout the process by providing necessary historical context and background of Maplewood’s past Youth Recreational Advisory Committee, according to the release.
“This is an opportunity to meet our youth where they are right now, meaning at the forefront of important and substantive local or national issues, way beyond concerns of recreation activities,” DeLuca said in the release. “I want to thank Committeeman Dafis and Deputy Mayor McGehee for their leadership in creating the Youth Committee, which will bring young people’s views, concern and ideas into our governmental decision making.”
The Youth Advisory Committee will be comprised of up to seven voting members and two Maplewood Township Committee non-voting members, one liaison and an alternate. The new committee will meet on its own once a month under Township Committee liaison supervision and its chairperson or vice chairperson will attend at least one Township Committee meeting each month. Youth Advisory Committee members will have access to Township Committee minutes and public information.
Applications for the new committee are being accepted on a rolling basis. Submit an application to the Maplewood clerk’s office by visiting https://www.twp.maplewood.nj.us/home/webforms/youth-advisory-committee. The Township Committee will interview prospective candidates. For more information on the Youth Advisory Committee and requirements for its members, visit https://www.twp.maplewood.nj.us/sites/maplewoodnj/files/uploads/ordinance_2914-18.pdf.