This post is part of our Behind the Scenes @PCYI_Org series. This series gives us an opportunity to share news about the various projects we’re working on, but it’s also a chance for you to learn more about us and to ask questions and make suggestions to help improve the quality of our work. Today our post is courtesy of our Youth Leadership Coordinator, Amanda.

Joining the team at the Peel Children and Youth Initiative was one of the most interesting and exciting experiences of my working life. I had signed up for an internship at United Way hoping to find employment and at the end I was offered a position at PCYI in its earliest stages (there were literally just five employees, including myself). As a Youth Leadership Coordinator I was given the task of creating a Youth Advisory Council that would act as a sounding board for the youth-based questions, thoughts and decisions that PCYI faced. This wasn’t a daunting task at all.

I set about my mission by tracking down every youth group I could find in the Peel Region and speaking to them about the opportunities that awaited them on this council. It was a foreign concept to many that an organization wanted them to join a council where their thoughts, opinions and ideas would be taken into account and adults wouldn’t be calling the shots on what mattered.

We ended up with a vibrant council of 10 who were very excited to take part. It’s hard to believe that all of that happened over two years ago. The council members today are just as excited as ever and are embarking on a work plan that has been designed based on their ideas of what would create the best opportunities for youth in Peel to thrive. They have taken PCYI’s vision and broken it down into steps to make it happen on their radar, while correlating with the Recreation and After School Strategy (RASS) recommendations wherever possible.

From the outset of the council to now, our youth have been engaged in the student surveys, focus groups, presenting at the More and Better Approach (MBA) ’12 symposium and actively participating in forwarding the mission of PCYI. Three of our council members sit on the Board of Directors and I think it is evident that the Youth Advisory Council has had, and continues to have, a huge role in the work PCYI does relating to youth. Their opinions are voiced, heard and understood. More than that, their voices are respected. I couldn’t be prouder to have founded this council and I can’t wait to see what the years will bring!

AmandaAmanda Bordonaro has a diploma in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor’s degree in law and society and sociology (honours double major). She is currently completing her Master’s degree in socio-legal studies at York University, focusing on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada. Amanda has volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters for the past three years and has served as an executive member of the United Way’s Young Leaders Council and as co-chair for their Youth in Action grants. An avid runner, Amanda is currently training for her third half marathon. Follow her and the Youth Advisory Council on Twitter @PCYI_YAC.

Working with Youth, for Youth in Peel Region