PEI Children and Youth Table launches with report to Premier King

Group image of PEI Children and Youth Table members in the cabinet room with the Premier and Minister of Justice as well as staff members
(Left to right): Youth members June Horne, Sarah Knockwood, Jade Ward, George Martin, Shaylee Bjornson, Payge Kowaleski, Shauna Bjornson. (Back row L-R): Rona Smith and Michael Zimmerman, staff of the PEI Children and Youth Advocate Office, Premier Dennis King, Wraychel Horne, staff member and Minister of Justice and Public Safety Bloyce Thompson

 

July 2, 2020 - Something astonishing has started in PEI during the COVID-19 isolation period. The PEI Children & Youth Table has been founded as a lead-in to the launch of the Child and Youth Advocate Act now slated for July 15, 2020. The eight founding Youth Members are committed to making a difference in the lives of PEI children and youth during these irregular times and in the months and years to come.

The PEI Children & Youth Table is the feedback mechanism of the Act; an organized and supported group of Youth advocates themselves who meet on a regular basis with community leaders, organizational directors, politicians, and roles from across the Island who as adults can provide information, drive action and facilitate change. The Table utilizes the United Nations Convention of the Rights of The Child as the lens for all conversations.

Each of the Youth Members were invited to volunteer based on recommendations of Adult members and from the Youth themselves. With a formal job description authored by the Youth, Table meeting topics are led by the Youth to discuss everything from the impact of COVID-19 measures, mental health, education, environmental concerns, economic impact of government decisions, child care, early learning, issues of children in care, and legal proceedings.

Children and youth are the future of our nation and I am glad we are finally getting a chance to speak up. Our voices need to be heard.” - Jade Ward, Youth member

In their first report to the Premier, the Youth were adamant to dispel myths about who they are, and who they are not. Simply put, they are not ‘just’ youth, their ages or experiences, ‘less than’, dangerous, defined by their past, gullible, a label, or one action. The Youth shared with the Premier that they are indeed whole persons, unique and different, mature, recognizing their past is still a part of them, capable and ready, people who understand things like the economy and politics, acknowledge their struggles, are entirely capable of happiness, and are their own story.

We all share a vision for a strong and vibrant province and that begins with empowering and investing our young people so that they know their voice is being heard and, more importantly, that their voice matters.” - Premier Dennis King

“This thoughtful and thought-provoking report put forward by the very talented and passionate youth members will help inform our work as a government so that youth are represented and reflected in decisions that we make as we work together to build a brighter future for all Prince Edward Islanders,” added the Premier.

The Youth view this first meeting to brief the Premier as the start of an ongoing relationship which authenticates their ability to act in the community.

“Meeting the Premier shows that our voices are finally being heard after so long.” reflected Lucy Knockwood, Youth member.

Two seats are still vacant on the PEI Children and Youth Table. Any interested youth wishing to explore if it would be a positive volunteer experience for them are encouraged to review the Youth Job Description and get in touch with the PEI Office of the Child and Youth Advocate.

The Children & Youth Table is also on Instagram. All children and youth are encouraged to reach out at any time with questions or input about their rights.

Media contact:

Wraychel Horne, M.A.
Child and Youth Support & Engagement
PEI Children and Youth Table
wraychel@gmail.com
902-626-9601