When the municipal election campaign first began, students in a Civic Studies class at Alberni District Secondary School decided they wanted to tackle voter apathy.
In the 2008 election, they learned, only 29.3 per cent of eligible voters turned out. The students took it upon themselves to improve that, with a poster campaign, through social media and also by hosting what turned out to be the only true all candidates forum in the Alberni Valley. They pulled no punches with their direct questions to candidates.
American children’s author Mary Jane McKittrick says children and youth need more than just a history lesson on democracy. They need to learn how people can make changes locally and around the country by raising their voices and availing themselves of their rights as citizens in a free and democratic society.
These students, and other youth who have spoken up about the issues that are important to them in this election, have already aced that part of the lesson.
They are so passionate about their right to vote, if they could fill out ballots in Saturday’s election most of them would.
Three years ago, the same could not be said for the Alberni Valley elecorate.
Perhaps because of the efforts of these young people, things will be different this year. It is up to us, the adults, to make sure their efforts do not go to waste.
The youth of the Alberni Valley are looking to be engaged in the local political process and they should not be ignored—now or after the election.
Don’t simply give these kids lip service. Give them a hands-on demonstration of democracy, and exercise your right to vote on Saturday at Glenwood Centre.