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For Immediate Release: 11/11/2022 O’CONNELL ENGAGES STUDENTS THROUGH REACTIVATED TAUNTON YOUTH COMMISSION Taunton, MA…Today Mayor Shaunna O’Connell proudly announced the re-establishment of the Taunton Youth Commission. The Commission connects the youth of Taunton with the Mayor’s Office, City Council, and community and provides an avenue for their opinions and ideas to be heard and implemented. “I’m thrilled to re-establish the Youth Commission which has been inactive for many years. Our young people represent the future of Taunton and it is important for them to be invested and involved in our community. It is inspiring that these students have volunteered to serve on the Commission and make a positive difference for their peers,” said O’Connell. The mission of the Commission is “to make a positive difference by providing Taunton’s youth with a voice in the community, developing leadership skills, social responsibility, and civic pride.” Kaitlyn Johanson, a senior at Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical High School, is looking forward to serving on the Youth Commission. “I am so excited to have the opportunity to get to know and work beside the Mayor, the adult mentors and my peers. It’s a great feeling to know I get to help form ideas and volunteer in the community that I grew up in. I can’t wait to see what will come of this Commission. I know that together we can all achieve great things,” said Johanson. After many years of the Commission being inactive, O’Connell sought to give Taunton youth an opportunity to be directly involved with their City government and to encourage participation in solving problems they see around them. Taunton youth are uniquely positioned to understand and convey concerns specific to their age group. They are also a welcome source of information and ideas for programs and initiatives designed to benefit Taunton youth. Adult mentor and Executive Director of the YMCA Roman Davis expressed his enthusiasm, “Enhancing the voice of our youth will be an important part in shaping Taunton’s future. The issues facing them today are vastly different from issues our youth faced just five years ago. Our Youth Commission aims to tackle some of these issues and we cannot wait to begin. I am honored to be an adult mentor and appointed by Mayor O’Connell to help guide the voices of tomorrow.” A priority for O’Connell and the adult mentors in setting up the Commission was to ensure membership that is reflective of the community and is inclusive of a diverse body of students. “We really wanted to see some students who may not normally volunteer for clubs and programs. We wanted a true cross-section of students from different backgrounds with varied abilities who will bring a variety of viewpoints. I am thankful to the adult mentors for all the work we did together to create a foundation for a Commission that will be meaningful and impactful for our youth,” said O’Connell. Currently, five adult members and eight student members have been appointed and sworn in as members of the Youth Commission: Roman Davis, Senior Executive Director, Old Colony YMCA Stephanie Hoye, Director of Student Services and Transportation, Taunton Public Schools Jillian Joyce, Board Member, Old Colony YMCA Jayson LaPlante, School Resource Officer, Taunton Police Department Melissa Oliveira, Adult & Teen Challenge New England Kaitlyn Johanson, Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical High School Jayden Lopes, Taunton High School Nathan Machado, Taunton Alternative High School Dayna Mbugua, Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical High School Lilee Rodrigues, Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical High School Mark Santos, Taunton Alternative High School Laylani Silva, Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical High School Isaiah Windle, Taunton High School There are three open seats available on the Youth Commission and Taunton students in grades 9-12 are encouraged to apply by visiting the City of Taunton website at https://www.taunton-ma.gov/687/Youth-Commission ###