Youth Leadership Mentorship
Due to the divisiveness, finger-pointing, name-calling, and the overall poor state of political discourse in Alberta today, as is the case in many other jurisdictions across Canada and the world, and as is particularly evident in our neighbour to the south, young people are disinterested and do not participate in the political process as much as they ought to. One could say that the leaders of tomorrow are politically apathetic! Instead, young people spend their energies and volunteer their time supporting specific causes or taking on social justice, environmental or community advancement-type initiatives. They are certainly active, albeit not politically. This apathy has traditionally encouraged politicians to ignore young people's priorities and, at times, even adopt policies that run counter to their interests without fear of electoral reprisal.
Mo believes that tomorrow’s leaders need to be engaged, today, for they should have a say in shaping their own future. Alberta’s youths can put forward their own vision for what their province should look like in 10, 20 and 50 years, a province that looks like them, shares their values, and acts on the priorities they identify. They can oppose platforms or policies that play to, or propagate prejudice, scapegoating, and division. If young people mobilize, they can force politicians of all political stripes to become better listeners, to talk and discuss (not shout), to look for solutions rather than paying lip service to the issues and just doing what is politically convenient or safe.
This desire to reach out to youths and to involve them at an early age is not new for Mo. In fact, when Mo served as MLA for Edmonton-McClung (2004-2008), he established and funded Young McClung, a youth outreach and leadership club which was open to all young people 14 and up. It was a non-partisan initiative run by its members; they chose the dates and venues for their meetings, decided on the topics they wanted to discuss and even invited their own guest speakers ranging from MLAs to city councillors to a citizenship judge. They supported initiatives such as the food bank and the planting of trees to celebrate the province’s centennial birthday. Many alumni of Young McClung went on to become very successful researchers, educators, government leaders, and caring parents of another generation of future leaders.
Mo is hoping to repeat the success of Young McClung by establishing “YEGawesome!” adopting the moniker of a high school project his son, Zeyad, took part in leading a couple of years ago. Zeyad, now a University of Alberta sophomore, has also agreed to liaise between this newly formed youth initiative and Mo until such time when YEGawesome members chose their own leaders and agree on what they want to do. Zeyad, the University of Alberta’s inaugural Community Service Learning (CSL) Award* recipient (June 2017) was just a young child when Young McClung was active and remembers how the meetings were positive and full of energy and optimism, not much different from his own experience with YEGawesome and the CSL program some 9 years later.
If you’re a young person, 14 years of age or older, with an interest in how politics could be done differently and want to help Mo, please apply here.
(*) This award recognizes a high school student who has demonstrated experience and interest in social change/social justice, activism, community engagement, and/or volunteerism and is registered to begin studies at the University of Alberta in the following fall term.