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Knoxville leaders create Youth Council, offering new perspective in policy and decision making

The city is currently accepting applications for children and teens ages 12 through 20 years old.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A new initiative under Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon's administration is bringing together youth voices through a new "Youth Council," the first of its kind.

The city is currently accepting applications for children and teens ages 12 through 20 years old. You can find more information about applying here.

Applications close next week to participate in the Youth Council.

The hope is for participants to give insight to city leaders about the changes younger people would like to see. 

The council, a part of Empower Knox, will be a platform for high-performing, high-potential youth to make a difference in Knoxville's policy-writing and decision-making process. 

"A lot of times our young people are not at the table, so this is an opportunity for them to have a seat at the table and for their ideas and concerns to be heard," said community engagement manager Kathy Mack. "The timing is right. I always say the timing is now to get young people involved."

She said plans for the Youth Council have been in the works for a long time, after many members of the Knoxville community called for more youth engagement and involvement opportunities.

Recent gun violence in the city has taken the lives of four teens so far this year. Mack said hearing from youth about changes they want to see is an important part of putting a stop to the violence.

The group will work with City Council and other city leaders. They'll also help with leadership and service projects. 

"I just love that we're in a time where it's even thought of and possible that we would have a council for our youth," said counselor Melissa Rose who believes youth voices matter. 

"It's a beautiful thing when a kid can observe something and speak up if there's something they don't feel is right, or something they want to see improved in our world," said Rose. 

She believes hearing from all different ages and backgrounds can help the city grow, especially now.

"We as a community learn so much," she said. "That can impact the way we move forward."

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