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June 11, 2007
Youths help shape a city that supports and nurtures youth
The Toronto Youth Strategy Panel met for the first time on Friday, June 8 to discuss the future of the City of Toronto and the role of youth in its positive growth and development. The group will develop a Youth Action Plan to help City Council set concrete priorities and create a youth-positive Toronto that will support and nurture all of the city’s youth.

The Toronto Youth Strategy was developed in the previous term of Council by the Roundtable on Children, Youth and Education to demonstrably improve the well-being of youth. The Youth Strategy called on the City to work with youth and the community to implement the strategy. The Youth Strategy Panel will work to identify current best practices in youth-driven initiatives and areas of concerns, with an eye on improving education, employment, income, community services and youth engagement. The panel will also work with the City to develop and release a Youth Report Card.

What sets this group apart from similar advisory committees in the past is that the members were selected by Toronto youth. Youth make up more that 50 per cent of the panel. There are a total of seven youth on the panel - three youth representing youth-serving community organizations, and four youth from the broader community.

More than 130 youth applied to be on the 13-member panel. Based on their experience with marginalized communities, their community ties and their skills in working with other volunteers, four youth from the community were chosen for the panel: Asam Ahmad, Hanifa Kassam, Michelle McLetchie, and Amber Morley.

The youth on the panel representing youth-serving organizations are: Craig Fortier, Grassroots Youth Collaborative; Ryan Hayes, Toronto Youth Cabinet; and Nicole Thomas, Youth in Power. The remaining members of the panel are City Councillors and members of the business, labour and community sector: Councillor Shelley Carroll; Councillor Maria Augimeri; Councillor Paul Ainslie, Frances Bedford-Jones and Natasha Kassim, RBC Financial Group; Terry Downey, Ontario Federation of Labour; and Violetta Ilkiw, The Laidlaw Foundation.

“The youth of today will shape the city of tomorrow,” said Councillor Shelley Carroll, Co-Chair, Toronto Youth Strategy Panel. “The youth of this city possess a wealth of unlimited potential. The Youth Strategy Panel gives us a chance to hear from the youth themselves, and will provide a forum to identify the supports and services needed to nurture that potential.”

Amber Morley and Asam Ahmad will share the youth co-chair position for the first year of the panel’s term. “We are excited to finally have a panel where youth can voice their concerns themselves,” said Asam Ahmad, “and look forward to having a very productive year.”

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years Toronto has won more than 50 awards for quality and innovation in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contact:
Councillor, Shelley Carroll, Co-Chair Toronto Youth Strategy Panel, 416-392-4038



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