NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For the first time, teenagers as young as 16 years old can join New York City community boards.
As CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reported, people who attend community board meetings may be surprised at how many high school students are offering thoughtful ideas.
Jon-Michael Provetto is 16, and was just appointed to his local Community Board 10 in the Bronx.
“I decided that, you know what? It’s time I become more of an influential member of my society and my community, and try to help,” Provetto said.
His only concern was the meetings.
“At first it was, like, exciting. But then I thought, you know what? Now I have to sit through these dull meetings,” Provetto said. “And then I actually went to my first meeting on Thursday, and I was like, there’s laughter strewn about. It’s actually kind of fun.”
Up until recently, anyone wishing to serve on a community board had to be 18 or older. But the age was lowered to get more young people involved.
Leila Eliot, also 16, has been attending board meetings since she was a little kid and her father was on the board. The meetings are once a month, they are open to the public, and Eliot said everyone should check it out.
“Even if you don’t want to speak, or you don’t have anything you really think is pressing that you want to bring to the community board, it’s important to know what’s going on,” said Eliot, of Manhattan Community Board 3 on the Lower East Side.
There are 59 community boards throughout the city. The members are all volunteers, and they are appointed by the borough presidents.
They find out what neighbors are concerned about, and work with elected officials to get the issues resolved. Board veterans like Martin Prince, also of Bronx Community Board 10, said you never know how far the young folks will go.
“We may be responsible in grooming one of the future leaders of the city,” Prince said. “That’s how I look at it anyway.”
Joshua Essner is only 11, and loves the idea.
“It can help children of this generation,” he said. “If someone in the government that’s like, around our age is going to help lead, then it’s going to be a good job to help boost us up.”
Essner will have to wait a few years, but as a teenager, he too may lead the way.