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Brooklyn Group Collects Signatures to Have Youth Voices Heard

By Janet Upadhye | July 10, 2012 3:24pm | Updated on July 11, 2012 9:07am
Young people stage a action to show that they feel silenced.
Young people stage a action to show that they feel silenced.
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Families United for Racial and Economic Equality

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Young people involved with Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE) in Downtown Brooklyn have started a petition asking the Committee on Youth Services to hold their public meetings at an hour when youth can attend.

It all started last March when the Committee held a public hearing to discuss programs for youth in New York City. The teenagers of FUREE wanted to give the committee feedback about how the programs were working in their communities. But most couldn’t attend because the meeting was at 10 a.m. and they were in school.

Some students attended but had to miss school in order to do so.

Desiree Marshall, 28, says she attempted to contact council members in order to get a sit-down meeting to talk about a change in public meeting hours. She said she played phone tag with some and found it hard to reach others at all.

“The FUREE youth members decided that a petition would be the best way to get their attention,” she said. “The plan is to get 750 signatures and then bring it to the council.”

Marshall hopes that the petition will encourage council members to discuss not only a change in meeting times, but also a variety of new strategies to get young people more involved with the committee.

She also wants the committee to use social media sites to engage young people and make agenda meetings more detailed so youth know what is being discussed.

Committee Chairperson Lewis A. Fidler was on vacation and could not be reached for comment. All other Brooklyn-based members did not return calls for comment.

Currently 400 people have signed the petition and FUREE is hoping to reach its goal by the end of the summer.

“We just think the Youth Services Committee should make it a priority to hear from young people.” Marshall said. “This summer is our chance make some changes happen in the coming school year.”