BROOKFIELD Teen aims to revive Youth Commission

May 10, 2018

BROOKFIELD — A high school student hopes to bring back the dormant Youth Commission to encourage young people to get involved in local government and spur more activities for students.

The Youth Commission died out years ago, in part because of a lack of interest and need, but it still exists in the town charter.

And Liam Enea, a student at Brookfield High School, aims to revive it.

“It would give the students of Brookfield, which there are over 2,700 of, some form of representation in local government,” Enea told the Board of Selectmen at a presentation earlier this week. “It would encourage participation in municipal and local and state politics. For the students who join the commission, it would be great for their civic duty.”

The commission’s goal is to study young people’s needs, such as employment, mental and physical health, social issues, and youth activities. Other groups, like the Parks and Recreation Commission, have taken over these duties since the Youth Commission dissolved.

But First Selectman Steve Dunn said it could be beneficial to have a commission look specifically at youth concerns.

“They can probably review and highlight some of the issues that might be facing our younger residents that we might not be aware of right now,” Dunn said.

Enea said the group could tackle problems like the rise in vaping among teens. He said the commission could also implement initiatives similar to a recent one at the high school, where teachers wore shirts with the word “human” to break down barriers between students and staff.

“Having something like a Youth Commission to promote different programs like that to encourage participation in government or encourage good ethics and things like that keeps students away from drugs,” Enea said.

He added the youth would have a good perspective on issues such as the rise in special education costs, which hit the district hard this year.

The commission would also be the perfect way for youth to get their start in politics, Enea said

The charter requires five adults to be appointed for a four-year term and five non-voting student members.

Enea said he already knows students who are interested, but the selectmen asked him to find adults who would want to participate. Selectman Sue Slater said the commission fizzled out years ago because of lack of adult interest.

If enough adults step up to the plate, Dunn said the commission could restart.

He said it was “wonderful” to see a young person engaged in the community.

“People always complain that our younger generation is not getting involved and I find the opposite to be true,” Dunn said. “There are a lot of young people like Liam who are trying to do more for their communities.”