Laying a Foundation: Social Work Students Help Bring Youth Voice to Political Discussion in New Brunswick

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Social Work students Jamie McNeil and Alex MacAulay are spending their social action placement working to create a platform for New Brunswick youth to be heard in politics.

Their 12-week placement—part of their Bachelor of Social Work Program at St. Thomas—is in the constituency office of New Brunswick Green Party leader David Coon. There, they have been researching youth politics platforms in other countries and gathering evidence that these platforms would be a good fit for New Brunswick.

“We’ve been attending youth events and taking video clips that show youth are active and involved, and if given a platform they will participate and lead,” said MacAulay.

McNeil said she was surprised by just how engaged youth are.

“We went to a conference that was youth led, and it was interesting to see the things that they care about and to realize ‘wow, I was not this aware when I was their age.’”

The students hope that eventually a platform will exist in New Brunswick for youth to have their voices heard by the government. Their placement focuses on laying the groundwork for future social work students to complete the project.

“We are focusing on the awareness to get people talking about these things,” said McNeil. “We are hoping there are going to be more students next year working on it, because this is only the first year of this placement at the office.”

McNeil and MacAulay will be presenting their work at STU’s School of Social Work Social Action fair on June 20. The event will showcase the work of many students in the program who have completed placements around Fredericton. The event is open to the public.

McNeil said the amount of hands-on work is part of what drew her to STU’s School of Social Work.

“I appreciate that there are two different placements,” she said. “Even though it is such a short program we do get a lot of hands-on work, which is a lot different than other programs.”