‘We want a better future’: Newmarket High School students have a message for new provincial government | #socialmedia

Inseeya Shakir, Maya Ip and Soumya Ananth are Grade 10 students at Newmarket High School who are discussing the provincial election. May 17, 2022

  • Inseeya Shakir, Maya Ip and Soumya Ananth are Grade 10 students at Newmarket High School who are discussing the provincial election. May 17, 2022

Newmarket High School Grade 10 students Maya Ip, Inseeya Shakir and Soumya Ananth were too young to vote in the June 2 election.

But there’s something they want the premier and Newmarket-Aurora’s new MPP to know.

They’re engaged, they’re watching and they will vote in the next election.

As young people who represent the voice of the future, they also want the new government to know the pandemic has changed their generation.

After two years of lockdowns and restrictions, they want to be actively involved in making the province and the world a better place.

No sitting on the sidelines for them.

“We had a lot of time for self-reflection. After that whole period of self-reflection, we have this kind of excitement. We really wanted to get out and help those people who were still struggling,” Inseeya, a Newmarket resident, said.

“There’s definitely issues that we’re concerned about. We’re trying to fix those issues and make it better. And there’s definitely things we’re happy about and grateful.”

Maya, a Newmarket resident, agreed.

“It taught us to be grateful. While we all had our own struggles, it put into perspective how other people are struggling as well. It made you want to help others. There’s definitely a sense of appreciation from being in the pandemic and coming out of it with a positive outlook,” she said.

“I think that youth nowadays, we have this really big impact because we have this great outreach through social media. It’s a different generation. We have the ability to contact people around the world and learn about different issues. I think we’re much more educated on it.”

Marking a ballot in the next election is important to them.

“As youth, we all have similar views and we all have a similar set of goals,” Soumya, an East Gwillimbury resident, said.

“So, if we’re not pushing for it and we’re not voting and not making a difference through our government that can actually do something about it, what’s the point? That’s one of the most obvious steps you can take.”

The girls, members of student council, are engaged in social justice issues.

They belong to a club called Connect Us 4 Community, or CU4C, which extends beyond Newmarket High’s borders.

Danielle Harder teaches the journalism/mass media program at Durham College, where she is also a faculty adviser with its Enactus DC chapter, a worldwide organization through which students learn entrepreneurial skills to tackle social challenges.

This year, the Durham College Enactus DC team started the CU4C club for high school students, with the goal of providing “a space where students with a passion for social issues, but uncertain about how to solve them, could learn skills and create sustainable social impact projects,” she said.

The biggest club is at Newmarket High.

Soumya, Maya and Inseeya, all on the club’s executive at Newmarket High, are indicative of students who are “aware, engaged and passionate about social issues,” Harder said.

Students in the club work in groups to develop initiatives supporting the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals, interlinked global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.”

The girls’ CU4C initiative is focused on helping to improve the mental health of seniors impacted by the pandemic.

They want to go into a seniors’ home and engage the residents with different activities such as arts and crafts and performances.

As they look to the upcoming term of the new provincial government, Inseeya, Soumya and Maya say improving Ontarians’ mental health is one of the top concerns they want Queen’s Park to address.

While they appreciate government resources, they want more engaging activities that bring communities together.

Their other top priorities include ensuring hybrid learning and online school courses are not mandatory, improving green energy resources, tackling climate change and better promotion of diversity and inclusivity issues.

“We want a better future,” Inseeya said.

STORY BEHIND THE STORY: When reporter Lisa Queen learned Newmarket High School had the largest Connect Us 4 Community club, she knew members would be perfect to talk about their post-election wish lists as voices of the future who care about social justice issues. 

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