Hamilton summit aims to address concerns young residents have about the city


Published May 25, 2023 at 12:07 pm


Ahmed Al-Naqeb wants his voice heard. 

The 23-year-old joined Hamilton’s Youth Steering Committee, part of the city’s five-year strategy to engage youth and address their issues. As a committee member, he discusses youth-related concerns in the community, from mental health to employment issues, and has a voice at city council. 

Young people are an integral part of building a better future for Hamilton, and one of the priorities for the city is improving youth engagement and leadership. 

According to the city, more than 70 per cent of youth respondents indicated the need to increase opportunities for them to voice their ideas and opinions and participate in decision-making.

On Saturday, June 3, youth like Al-Naqeb will participate in the city’s first annual HamOntYouth Summit presented by RBC. The free event for those aged 16 to 25 will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Mohawk College’s ArcelorMittal Dofasco Theatre. Participants will be offered free bus tickets, refreshments and lunch. Those who drive will have complimentary parking. There will be swag bags and a few prizes. Since space is limited, youth have until Friday, May 26, to register for the event.

The Youth Summit is important to me and other youth because we get to be informed of resources in the community, meet new people, develop relationships, and most importantly have fun,” Al-Naqeb said in an email to inthehammer.com.

Building skills and celebrating youth

“The biggest part of the youth strategy is we engage the youth voice and that we try and build youth skills and that we celebrate youth,” said Irene Heffernan, manager of early years, youth and home management with the City of Hamilton.  “The strategy was developed so that the youth voice could be heard in Hamilton and I don’t really think there was a platform for a youth voice.”

The summit was created in partnership with the city’s Youth Steering Committee. At the summit, participants can hear musical performances and the success stories of role models, such as celebrated bobsledder Cynthia Appiah, who will be the keynote speaker, and other athletes from the Tiger-Cats, Forge FC and Hamilton Cardinals.

Youth at the summit will participate in youth-led workshops on financial literacy, sustainability and how to pursue professional athletics. There will also be a “Model City Hall” session. The event will be a networking opportunity allowing participants to connect with local organizations, businesses and community youth groups, according to the city. 

City working on five-year plan to address pressing issues facing youth

Over 1,000 youth between the ages of 14 and 29 were consulted in creating Hamilton’s Youth Strategy, which was approved by city council on March 2022, according to Heffernan. “It’s a five-year plan for how the city will engage youth aged 14 to 29 and collaboratively address the pressing issues that they face in Hamilton,” Heffernan said. “And the summit was identified as an engagement activity.”

Based on 2021 census data, there are over 108,000 youth aged 15 to 29 in Hamilton, about 19 per cent of the city’s population.

The city’s Youth Strategy included 1,043 youth surveys, 196 agency partner surveys, 177 parent surveys in 2018 and 2021, with 583 participants in focus groups.

“Top five priority themes that were identified by youth for the strategy that the city will be working on, because we’re now in the implementation phase, will be access to mental health and addictions support, access to employment and training, access to safe and affordable housing, enhancing safety and a sense of inclusion, and enhancing youth engagement and leadership,” said Heffernan. “At the summit youth will have a chance to voice their opinions on these priorities and some issues that Hamilton is currently facing.”

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