CALGARY -- Even though they’re too young to vote many Calgary students want federal election candidates to hear their concerns.
On Wednesday, 50 youth from 10 to 17 years old met at Studio Bell for a forum hosted by Children First Canada.
The daylong event is designed to engage the kids and key adult leaders to put kids' issues on the radar for Federal election 2019.
Sara Austin is the founder and CEO of Children First Canada and has been advocating for children for more than 20 years at the national and international level.
“Canadians are right now thinking about how they want to vote and which party is going to best represent their interest and we want all adults who can vote in this election to be thinking about what would happen if kids could vote and to really be speaking up on behalf of our children and to make their voices heard by our federal leaders,” said Austin.
Organizers of the forum have identified the top 10 threats to Canadian children, which are mental health, preventable accidents, vaccinations, poverty, discrimination, bullying, child abuse, infant mortality, obesity and food insecurity.
11 year old Nesh Wrathall is in Grade 6 and knows which issues are most important to her.
“Depression, suicide and anxiety especially because the fact that kids would take their own lives away because they were so upset or miserable or didn’t like how their lives were going really irritates me and makes me upset,” said Nesh.
Roman Wolfli, 12, is one of the youth leaders at the forum. He’s been interested in politics since the last federal election when he was in Grade 3.
“Kids are the people being affected by these issues and kids can also be the ones to solve these issues, you don’t have to wait for adults to do things for you, you can do things yourself,” said Roman.
Western Canada High School hosted an all candidate forum Wednesday for its Grade 12 students and others from Central Memorial High School where many are eligible voters in this federal election.
According to Elections Canada, in the 2015 election the participation of voters aged 18 to 24 increased to 57.1 per cent from 38.8 per cent in 2011. This was the largest increase for this age group since Elections Canada began reporting demographic data on turnout in 2004.