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Schoolnet Youth Advisory Board
By Tori W., Grade 8, Calgary Christian Middle School, Calgary, AB

You, a teenager, probably watch the news, and hear about the recent decisions being made by the Government. Why don't we have a say? You wonder. This affects us too.

The truth is, the youth of Canada do have a say. In 2001, young people from across Canada applied to be on the Schoolnet Youth Advisory Board, otherwise known as SYAB. The application was in the form of an essay contest. The topic was: "How does technology affect you?" In March 2001, 19 youths from across Canada were contacted by the co-ordinator, Christina Fykes, and were forged to become SYAB.

A web forum was provided for us so that we could get to know each other and discuss technological issues. When a big issue was brought up, a chat was organized where we all discussed what was going on. Our answers were not disregarded; as one of our members put it, "We are part of a world better fit for children, and our ideas are going to the United Nations." (Mike MacIsaac Jr, 15, Inverness, NS.)

As well as talking in the forum and in organized chats, SYAB congregates in Ottawa every couple of years. In our last Ottawa Meeting, we discussed deal.org, a website created by the RCMP to help youth deal with the various problems that they face, some on a day-to-day basis. This gateway is unknown to many who might benefit from it. The other two items on our agenda that year were the National Child Day, and giving suggestions for improving the SYAB website.

The main point of this article is to let people know what we're doing. As Mike MacIsaac Jr. put it, "Things can't reach their full potential until the country knows what we're about." We don't get paid for what we're doing; we're doing it to make this country, and this world, a better place for youth.

You can do something too! There are many opportunities available to you that you may not have noticed before, such as:

  1. Accessing deal.org: http://www.deal.org

  2. Take a look at the SYAB website: http://www.schoolnet.ca/syab-ccjr/

  3. Joining the deal.org support group: http://communities.deal.org/deal-choix-support

Our group has grown since March, and several members have graduated and moved on, though some continue in an advisory capacity. Those of us who remain want to expand beyond what anyone could have expected. We want to make sure that youth continue to have a say. We are the future, and we, as youth, have the power to change this world that we are a part of.


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