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A Kansas City Council intern is reimagining youth involvement in local government

A man sitting inside a radio studio gestures with both hands while talking at a microphone.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
DJ Yearwood, an intern for Kansas City Council member Melissa Patterson Hazley, wants more teens and young adults to advise city council on issues that impact young people.

DJ Yearwood, an intern for Kansas City Council member Melissa Patterson Hazley, is working to develop the KC Futures Commission, where teens and young adults would advise the government on relevant issues.

Young people rarely get a seat at the table when government bodies make decisions that impact them — especially if they're not old enough to vote. But DJ Yearwood, an intern for Kansas City councilmember Melissa Patterson Hazley, thinks they should.

Yearwood is developing a new program to get more young people involved at City Hall. The KC Futures Commission would re-imagine Kansas City's Youth Commission by establishing two separate councils: one for teens aged 13-18, and one for young adults aged 19-25.

The two groups would serve as advisors to Kansas City Council and lead efforts to serve young people in Kansas City.

The model for KC Futures Commission is based on the Dallas Youth Commission, but Yearwood said his program will be able to include even more young people.

"I think youth have a place in local government, I think their perspectives are important. I think that anybody's perspective is important in policymaking." Yearwood said. "So I think it's a no-brainer to work to contribute them."

Council member Patterson Hazley will introduce an ordinance to establish KC Futures Commission later this month. If it passes, Yearwood and Patterson Hazley hope to get the program up and running in February.

  • DJ Yearwood, youth advocate and intern for Kansas City council member Melissa Patterson Hazley
  • Melissa Patterson Hazley, 3rd District-At-Large, Kansas City Council
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