Fix News

Congress Seeking More Help From Youth


Matthew Wilson of Wethersfield, Conn.,
addressing U.S. Rep. John Larson’s youth cabinet


By Yelena Samofalova and Erez
HARTFORD, Connecticut,
U.S.A.  – Three years after U.S. Rep.
John Larson broke ground by creating for the first time a youth cabinet to
advise him, a second congressman has followed suit.
The Missouri
congressman, William Lacy Clay, said he decided to create his own after seeing
Larson’s group in action during an event last summer at the Harriett Beecher
Stowe House in Hartford that drew a number of members of the Congressional
Black Caucus.
On Saturday,
the two youth panels held a joint session by teleconference to talk about their
experiences and to address the topic of bullying.
Yelena Samofalova/
U.S. Rep. John Larson’s youth cabinet


The purpose
of the cabinets is to give young adults a voice in the operation of their
Larson said
young people should have more access to the “levers of power in the United
States Congress” and the cabinets are one way to make it happen.
One of
Larson’s aides, Eva Bunnell, who came up with idea years ago, said she feels “young
people deserve a seat at the table.”
Larson said
that generally, “The opinions of youth are not taken seriously enough.”
Larson said
his youth cabinet, which has representatives from most of the high schools in
his district, is “actually making change” through its work. “It’s not just a
passive appointment,” Larson said.
member Matthew Wilson, a junior at Wethersfield High School in Wethersfield,
Conn., said “even raising awareness of any issue by youth is really effective
and just having this partnership with the congressman, where he listens to what
we have to say and attempts to shape policy around it, that is very effective.”
Clay said
the cabinets are a great example of what energized young people can offer to
their community.
The acting co-chairman
of the Congressional Youth Cabinet, Calvin Brown of Bristol, said that in order
to have their voices heard, teens should get “involved with various things that
are going on” around them.
“They bring
to the table what’s going on in their own towns,” Bunnell said.
Wilson said
that they measure their effectiveness by the number of people who approach them
with problems.
The new
Missouri cabinet and the Connecticut cabinet
may soon have more partners. Larson said two more are in the works in
other states.
“It’s great
to see our numbers continue to grow,” Larson said.
Clay said he
hopes it will “spread like wildfire” and their end goal is to have 435 cabinets
all over the nation, one for each congressional district.
Larson said
he would like to bring the youth cabinet to the nation’s capital to meet
government officials.
He said he
would put them on train in Hartford and “we’ll boogie right into Grand Central”
Station in New York before heading south to Washington.
Clay said
he’d like to bring the two cabinets together at the Capitol but his group would
have to fly there from Missouri.
They both
said that perhaps two other youth cabinets that are forming elsewhere may be
able to participate, too.
Larson said
it couldn’t be a long trip because members are so busy but he’s sure it would
be great.
Senior Reporter
Kiernan Majerus-Collins contributed to this story.