It’s Never Too Early to Start Talking About Voting

11 Oct 2013
By Ros Doi |

youth central

This week I’ll be in a grade six classroom three times.  I’m not a teacher, but through my work at Youth Central, and particularly through Youth Can Vote – I’m lucky enough to sometimes feel like an educator. But this week, I know I’m about to get an education.  This week three different grade six classrooms students will hold candidate forums, where they will ask their respective Councillor candidates about the things that matter to them.

“What will you do to improve them reputation of our ward in Calgary?”

“I’m afraid to cross the intersection by my school because of the traffic, any ideas on how we can fix it?”

“By the time I’m 18, is there going to be a c-train line near my house?”

And yes, that’s right – these questions are coming from twelve year olds. Twelve year olds who want to be informed about the municipal election and the candidates vying for their parent’s votes.

Youth Central is a non profit organization whose mission is to inspire, engage and celebrate youth and we do so through a number of programs and really cool projects, like Youth Can Vote.  Coinciding with each municipal election in Calgary, Youth Can Vote encourages those under 18 – to get informed, get educated and ultimately vote (albeit in a mock election), for their candidates of choice.

Youth Can Vote’s goal is to assist classrooms in creating informed, engaged young citizens, who understand the importance of exercising their democratic rights.  This is done through a number of ways including a Teacher’s Manual, to assist our educators in disseminating information about the electoral process, our website ( with news article updates and candidate information, candidate forums so young people have the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about candidates, and finally, a mock election – where youth will vote, just like adults do, with ballot boxes, privacy screens and an understanding of the need to continue to vote for the rest of their lives.

A participant in a previous Youth Can Vote program said it best, “I’m 12 and I was so excited to vote today, I don’t really get why adults aren’t”.  So why aren’t we?  On October 21st, get excited – vote!

Guest Blogger Ros Doi is the Program Director with Youth Central