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Multnomah County residents ages 13-21 encouraged to apply for policy-focused group

COURTESY PHOTO: MULTNOMAH YOUTH COMMISSION - The Multnomah Youth Commission is now taking applications for new members. The commission focuses on policy recommendations geared toward young people.The Multnomah Youth Commission, a long-standing pillar in Multnomah County, is now opening applications for the 2022-2023 school year.

Members must be between the ages of 13-21, and live, work, go to school, or attend an out-of-school program in Multnomah County.

Applications for the commission are due at 5 p.m. April 18 and can be found on the Multnomah Youth Commission site.

Multnomah Youth Commission acts as the official youth policy body for the city of Portland and Multnomah County and has served as such for just over 25 years. Created to amplify youth voices, and create policy recommendations, it has formed subcommittees to focus on specific issues. It currently has three subcommittees for new and returning members to choose from, as well as leadership positions within the commission.

Currently, the three subcommittees are: transit equity and environmental advocacy (also known as TEEA), education/youth voice, and youth against violence (also known as YAV). Although the commission is split into three groups, each subcommittee meets weekly and the whole commission meets every two weeks.

Ahlam Osman serves on MYC's office of diversity and is a program aide with the Youth Commission..

Osman said a different and exciting MYC emerged during COVID-19. "We're now able to meet together a little bit before our meetings and give updates outside of our committees," Osman said, explaining the meeting structure while talking about the Tuesday meetings each subcommittee shares. "Virtual meetings were a lot more accessible to many members."

With coronavirus cases on a steady downward trend, staff plans for a transition into a hybrid model for meetings this month. Osman explained the decision to begin the transition after two years of virtual meetings was not made lightly, or without youth input. For the safety of all staff and youth present, masks will still be required during meetings for the time being.COURTESY PHOTOS: MULTNOMAH YOUTH COMMISSION - Members of the Multnomah Youth Commission are ages 13 to 21 and live, work or go to school in Multnomah County.

A typical non-COVID year would host adult-youth partnerships, offer food at meetings served family-style and retreats at the beginning of each year where members can form connections. A three-day retreat is planned with MYC's summer committee where members learn about what it means to be volunteers for the county, important terminology that will aid them in their work and life, and get a first taste for the work ahead of them.

"I remember my first year in MYC, I was so scared of talking in front of people. After almost three full years of being here I have gained so much leadership experience, and I've even gotten to talk to people in higher positions," said Daniel Interian, 18, a senior at Reynolds High School and MYC co-chair.

COURTESY PHOTO: MULTNOMAH YOUTH COMMISSION - Daniel Interian serves on the Multnomah Youth Commission. Interian said there are many benefits to the role, like learning more about government processes.Interian said he's seen many benefits in deciding to take a leap and join MYC. On the adult side, "you get to learn more about government and how that works, and learn how to plan accordingly for anything," Interian noted.

Osman shared similar opinions.

Meant as a pillar of change and professionalism, MYC recognizes that youth are just that: youth. There is an emphasis on asking for help and learning new things, often observed by many members, Osman said.

"We want people from every ethnicity, age, disability, and different economic statuses to apply," Osman said. "We are a board that makes decisions for everyone and values everyone's unique perspective. It is not just about representation; it is about having everyone be able to decide and have their voices at the table.

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