Pumped for youth

East Fremantle mayor for a day Charlotte Wingham and her grown-up counterpart Jim O’Neill. Photo by Steve Grant.

EAST FREMANTLE council is trying to shed its image as a bit of a grey-haired enclave and has started engaging with its youth to find out more about their needs.

Earlier this month the council held its first Youth Council with students from Richmond Primary, who took over the chamber to grill mayor Jim O’Neill and his staff and vote on five recommendations.

Mr O’Neill said it had been “decades” since the council really engaged with its younger residents.

“I think there’s a whole host of opportunities to play sport, but what do they want us to provide in terms of playgrounds,” he said, noting that many of those in the town’s parks weren’t very inspiring.

After school

“They’re definitely looking for things they can do after school.”

Mr O’Neill said once the council has identified the needs, he hopes to involve the kids in the design.

One particular wish has been for a pump track which he says has made its way onto the council’s agenda.

“It’s important to let them know that they can ask us for things,” Mr O’Neill said.

Twelve-year-old Charlotte Wingham from Richmond enjoyed her time as East Freo’s youth mayor.

“It was pretty cool, I felt I had a lot of power,” she said.

“Maybe I would make something that could help kids make more friends, because a lot of kids sit alone and it would not be a nice way to spend your lunch,” she said in answer to what she’d introduce if her role had some real clout.

The town also held a Youth Meet Up event back in April this year, and though Mr O’Neill said he would have loved to see more youngsters attending, he’s hoping the town keeps hosting them regularly to engage with the older kids.

by STEVE GRANT

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