Since the 2011 federal elections, public attention has adopted greater focus on youth engagement in politics. In 2011, youth voter turn out rates hit 37.4%, one of the lowest Canadians have ever seen. Why is youth engagement in politics so low? And what can we do as Canadians, as parents, professors, classmates, co-workers and as citizens of Laval, to engage and motivate the next generation to participate in the political and electoral processes that keep this very country, and its municipalities running?

We can start with a couple basic questions. If you were to ask young adults to name the second most significant politician in this country, Canada’s minister of finance, or Quebec’s prime minister, or even name Laval’s mayor, would they be able to answer you?

If your answer is no, then these individuals may be lacking the political knowledge and experience they need in order to successfully participate in their civic and political duties. Researchers cite low levels of political knowledge and interest as a large contributing factor to this social phenomenon.

The 18-24 year-old demographic may also refrain from political participation because they may feel that their civic duties do not extend as far as voting, or they may believe one vote will not make a significant difference. Furthermore, studies have shown that the rise of individualistic values has also contributed to such political and electoral disengagement. Youth’s lack of motivation to volunteer may be based on the fact that they feel their time is far more valuable if they are being rewarded.

But what about those who want to engage and immerse themselves into the political process, or who would simply like to volunteer in order to improve the sense of community in their local municipality? The problem is that most young adults do not know where to begin, who to talk to, or where to go.

A great place to start would be by contacting Laval’s newest youth group: Jeunes Youth Laval. Jeunes Youth Laval (JYL) is a group made up of young individuals who want to make a difference in the community of Laval. They wish to inspire, encourage, and enhance the lives of others by engaging in a movement of positive actions that will ultimately facilitate and better the lives of others. The goal is to create a platform where teenagers and young adults from all backgrounds can get together and get involved in social and volunteering initiatives that seek to improve the Laval community as a whole while promoting and fostering a greater feeling of community.

One of the larger projects that Jeunes Youth Laval is in the process of organizing is a charity fashion show, featuring Montreal-based designers and other well-known brands. This project is a stepping-stone for JYL and a preview of greater things to come for the Laval community. It will showcase the JYL’s teamwork and effort of their volunteering initiative, raising funds for a great cause, and all while having an amazing time.

Be on the look out for JYL members in the Laval community. If you or someone you know is interested in making a difference in Laval, do not hesitate to contact Jeunes Youth Laval via their Facebook page. As the late Robert F. Kennedy once said, “The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.”