Borough President Calls For Teenagers to join Community Boards

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Borough President Eric Adams is urging Brooklyn teenagers to take action in their neighborhoods by asking them to join community boards.

Addressing a group of students at Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Boys and Girls High School on Thursday evening, Adams discussed a new state law permitting up to two teens over the age of 16 to participate as members in each of the city’s 59 CBs.

“This is allowing you to say, ‘I want to talk about stop and frisk,’ ‘Should cops be in my school?’ ‘I want to talk about how my school and streets should be clean,’” Adams said.

“This is a significant movement that people have fought for — for you to have the right to have a voice in government…You’re not going to be outside watching someone fight the fight, you’re going to be in it.”

The legislation, signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in August, received support from the Police Athletic League, civics education group Generation Citizen and the Association of Teachers of Social Studies.

In highlighting the potential impact the students would have, Adams also touched on issues including college readiness and the relationship between youth and law enforcement.

Teens from the Student School Neighborhood and Community Government group and area high schools joined in identifying their local boards and learning more about numerous committees.

Thursday’s meeting was the fourth to get feedback on the new law, with previous introductions held in Washington Heights, Jamaica and the Bronx.

The group listened as Henry Butler, Brooklyn Community Board 3’s district manager, relayed his experiences as a seven-year member. Upon joining, he was the second youngest on the board at age 40.

“That’s a problem,” Butler said. “A lot of decisions we make affect your lives, but you’re not there to give any input on those decisions.”

To apply for a volunteer spot on the board, teens are required to live, work, or have an active interest in their neighborhood of choice. An online or hard-copy form must be submitted, along with suggested volunteer work and recommendations from teachers or elected officials.

Jelani Hendricks, a senior at Boys and Girls, attended the meeting as part of a student government class in which participants regularly visit community board committees to gain familiarity with the decision-making process.

“I feel good about youth empowerment, it shows us how important we are even though we feel minuscule to older people and the powers above us,” Hendricks said.

“Other kids should think this is a powerful movement, something that’ll help everyone.”

By Camille Bautista


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