Young Voices Ring Loud and Clear at Livability Summit
Youth Leadership Academy students share their vision for a livable region
October 31, 2022: Youth are ready to take a seat at the table and play an active role in shaping the future of our communities. That is the message a panel of four emerging leaders and Youth Leadership Academy (YLA) students communicated during the first-ever Valley Vision Livability Summit. The summit, which took place at Sacramento State University on October 4, faciliated a deep dive into the findings from Valley Vision’s Livability Poll and offered a convening of ideas and honest discussions among attendees.
The Livability Poll, which was distributed in June and July of this year, sought to understand how residents throughout the region feel about their quality of life, affordability of the region, job satisfaction, engagement, mental health, and safety. We encourage you to explore the poll’s highlights on Valley Vision’s website.
The panel was moderated by Tate Chatfield, a student at UC Davis who lives in Yolo County. Panelists included Ariana Thakur from El Dorado County, Grace Hadani from Yolo County, and Skyler Harris from Sacramento County. The panelists echoed concerns from the poll, including the desire to feel safe in communities.
“The bigger issue is equality,” said Thakur. “So many different kids in my high school come from different neighborhoods, some wealthy, some not.” She also noted that racism is something that her classmates face. “It’s not something that students, or anyone, should have to be worrying about.”
Students also expressed concerns over the availability of mental health services, sharing that schools are working to address issues, but the pandemic heightened mental health concerns and there is a need for better access to holistic services. “The minimum doesn’t work,” said Hadani. “You can’t just create a wellness center that students can’t access.”
So, what does livability mean to these young leaders?
“Livability to me means a connection between the communities and being able to have an overall sense of well-being mentally and physically,” shared Harris. “It also means … not only being able to live but thrive in your own community.”
In spite of the challenges, these students are hopeful for the future and are calling on the region’s leaders to continue considering youth when making decisions. Before closing the panel, Chatfield stressed the need to bring more voices to the decision makers’ conversations: “By having more people at the table and bringing new people in, that’s how we get a better community.”
It was a great moment for the YLA students and the audience, who enjoyed the rare opportunity to hear directly from the future leaders of the region.
Applications for the YLA Class of 2023 are now open!
If you are a student who lives within the six-county Sacramento region and are interested in participating in the Youth Leadership Academy, now is the time to apply. Applications are due by November 4, 2022. Fill out an application here, and if you have questions, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.