SBY4C: Envisioning Broadway
Serving as a panelist for the Chula Vista Candidates Forum has been one of the most important things I have done while in high school. I gained important experience in civic engagement, secured an internship with Chula Vista Councilmember Jill Galvez and became better educated about problems facing my community.
However, I am among a select few of my peers who make the effort to engage in politics, especially at the local level. Youth need to engage in politics. Family and friends and, most importantly, public officials need to encourage them to do so.
At my high school, High Tech High Chula Vista, many of my peers express concerns about things in their neighborhoods that make them uncomfortable, such as illegal pot shops or graffiti, but show a lack of interest in their local and state governments. Many of the issues youth deal with on a regular basis can be prevented or solved through civic engagement.
That is why I joined the South Bay Youth 4 Change (SBY4C) through the Institute of Public Strategies. That is how I got involved in the Chula Vista Candidates Forum.
SBY4C is a coalition of high school students speaking up against underage drinking and drug use and focus on activities that promote healthy schools, thriving neighborhoods, and families. We like making a difference in our community. It feels really good to be able to see the change happening and be a part of it.
The forum not only allowed me and some of my peers to interact with candidates, but persuaded them, with a public audience, to listen to our concerns and how they would address them if elected. This allowed candidates to take a closer look at issues youth face.
We asked the candidates questions focused on public safety, police-regulated businesses and preventing alcohol and drug related harm to youth. It was part of a broader effort to build a more vibrant, healthy and safe business corridor known as Envision Broadway.
Envision Broadway’s purpose is to balance business interests and community needs, since residents of all communities deserve health, safety and quality of life.
Civic engagement can also give youth the resources they need to solve issues in their communities. During my internship with Councilmember Jill Galvez, I partnered with one of the senior art teachers, Chelsea Smith, to paint murals on a business on Broadway, which has been repeatedly vandalized with graffiti and had trash dumped on it. This is in hopes to prevent graffiti in the area and beautify my community.
Don’t wait until you are all grown up to become involved in civic engagement. Be the change you want to see in your community. Get involved. Let your voice be heard. Our elected officials and civic leaders should hear from all age groups, not just a few.
# # #
Conner Boggan is a senior at High Tech High School in Chula Vista and a member of SBY4C, a coalition of students advocating for healthy, safe and thriving neighborhoods.