On Wednesday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams joined educators, community leaders and advocates at Brooklyn Borough Hall to urge teenagers to take advantage of a new state law that now allows them to become members of the City’s community boards.
Under the new law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, borough presidents can appoint up to two teenagers over the age of 16 to each community board in New York City, marking a historic expansion of potential members. Adams spoke about his call for greater youth involvement in civic matters, part of his proposed community board reforms:
“Community boards are the true heartbeat of this city, because they are in touch with grassroots priorities more than any other level of local government,” said Borough President Adams. “Teenagers play a vitally important role in our communities, and it’s time they sit on these boards as well, so our government reflects the opinions of all people. I am looking forward to reviewing the applications of our young people this year and appointing some great new talent to our boards.”
Community boards have a variety of responsibilities, including dealing with land use and zoning issues, assessing the needs of their own neighborhoods, and addressing other community concerns. The law was passed with the support of a City Council resolution, at the request of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, which was jointly sponsored by Council Members Ben Kallos, Mark Levine and Ritchie Torres.
“Community Board 3 is proud to stand with our Borough President and other community partners as we advocate for expanding the composition of Community Boards to include our youth,” said Tremaine Wright, chair of Brooklyn Community Board 3. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our young people to assume ownership for the neighborhoods in which they reside and to develop a working knowledge of government. This is how civics come to life. This is how we invest in our future. We need to secure a place for our youth at the decision making table.”
“Community boards are the most local form of representative government in New York City,” said Robert Perris, district manager of Community Board 2. “This state legislation will allow us to be that much more representative.”
“Young people need to get into the game of life sooner rather than later,” said Akosua K. Albritton, chair of Brooklyn Community Board 8’s Youth and Family Services Committee. “We owe it to them to ‘find their legs’ and cultivate autonomy and self-expression. I take exception to the saying, ‘our children are our future.’ Many children have adult responsibilities. It’s only fair that they have constructive means to contributing to society. I have been encouraging my committee members to bring teens to the committee meetings.”
“It’s time for people my age to get involved,” said Monifa StLouis, a representative of Boys and Girls High School’s Student School Neighborhood and Community Government. “I am excited to meet young adults from Brooklyn who are committed to bringing about change.”