Youth Can Vote Calgary 2021

The Cause

Youth Can Vote Calgary (YCV), a project of Youth Central, is a youth-driven, youth-involved web-based program that provides non-partisan, election related resources to students interested in learning about and participating in the municipal election process.

Youth Central is a charitable non-profit focused on empowering youth to find and build their communities. Annually we engage over 1,100 youth, ages 12-18 through volunteer based programming. We emphasize innovative programming approaches that prioritize team-work, creativity, community connection and critical reflection. We believe youth should volunteer and be involved in social change efforts in all levels of community.

The program includes an educational component that is provided to teachers and educators and a mock voting activity on election day. Classrooms are supported to host candidate debates where questions are asked by students only. The program events will occur in the weeks leading up to the municipal election in October 2021 after the commencement of the 2021/2022 school year. The YCV project will be planned from start to finish by youth volunteers, with Youth Central staff support and guidance.

The overall purpose of YCV is to increase the interest and involvement of youth in politics and the electoral process. We will focus on the municipal level, but it is expected that the lessons learned will transfer to all levels of government. At the end of the program, we want students to understand that politics are important to everyone, and that everyone has a voice, regardless of age. Excuses for voter apathy among youth range from claims that all politicians are the same, politicians do not care about the same issues as youth, or that one vote won’t make a difference. Seeking to include diverse youth participants who may not otherwise be consulted, this program will actively show how any voice can make a difference, as long as we are willing to ask and listen before we act.

Who Will it Benefit?

Youth primarily in grades 6-9 will benefit from the program.

Through the YCV program we ultimately hope to improve the voter turnout rates for young people in Calgary. While youth under the age of 18 are not legally recognized to exercise their right to vote, they do have the right to learn about and become prepared to participate in the democratic process. The benefits associated with initiative participation include:
(1) Students experience "a hands-on opportunity" which enhances the curriculum through applied learning versus classroom instruction alone;
(2) Students better understand the importance of exercising their democratic rights;
(3) Students develop decision-making skills, individual responsibility, citizenship, and respect for diversity; and
(4) A trickle effect is likely to occur whereby friends and family of voting age are encouraged by participating youth to exercise their democratic rights at the polling stations.