MORRISBURG – The Municipality of South Dundas is looking to build strong connections with youth in this community and a well-known local youth is heading up that portfolio.
Eighteen year-old Kaeghan Lowson, who has just completed his first year at the University of Guelph is South Dundas’ youth intern.
The position was made possible through the municipality’s successful application to the Rural Ontario Institute to receive partial funding (75 per cent), for the internship which will result in a youth engagement strategy. Youth is defined as those aged 15-29.
“It’s great to have this partnership,” said South Dundas economic development officer Rob Hunter.
Here until late August, Lowson will be connecting with the youth of South Dundas.
Lowson is already working on building those connections, reaching out first to the staff and student council of his former high school – Seaway.
In the end, Hunter not only expects to acquire profiles of high achieving youth, but also a road map of how the municipality can continually engage youth going forward.
“We want them to have a voice,” said Hunter. “They are very important.”
This information will be used long term to help the municipality develop a youth retention and attraction strategy.
Lowson was born in Winchester and has lived in South Dundas his entire life.
He attended St. Mary-St. Cecilia Catholic School and then Seaway District High School. He was the eighth grade valedictorian and top boy at Seaway.
He has lived in both Morrisburg and Iroquois and knows the whole of this community.
“I thought this would be a great position, because the youth in this area definitely have things to say but we don’t really have the outlet to say them,” said Lowson. “I feel like this is the perfect opportunity to help the youth get their voices out there.”
“It’s really cool to come to work here and have this opportunity.”
His main goal is to get the wants and needs and the voice of the youth out there and well-known in the community.
“I feel like there are people want to see some changes,” said Lowson, who aims to figure out not only how to make youth concerns known, but also to get those concerns addressed. “It would be nice to give them a platform for a voice in general,” he added.
He will collect information about what young people want to see in the community and what things might draw them back here for their adult years.
He hopes too that the connection will help raise the awareness of youth about governance. But, he really wants to find a way to do some fun things to make this process more appealing all around.
“It would be great if I could find a way to educate and entertain at the same time.”
With this process ideas like the adding youth reps to certain committees could be explored.
That is an opportunity that Lowson would have liked to have had during his high school career. “I’ve always been someone who has so many opinions, wants, needs and ideas for change. But, I didn’t really have the outlet for that voice. If that was available to me in high school I totally would have snatched that opportunity right up.”
Lowson plans to organize a youth night at council so the youth can see for themselves how governance works.
Lowson is the grandson of South Dundas’ very first economic development officer, Anne Marie Young. Lowson is part of a family with strong ties and interest in this municipality, even on the governance side of things. “That is definitely a big inspiration to me,” said Lowson. “I want to make grandma proud and she’s so happy that I’m here.”