By Payton Stovall
Sitting in an office at Urban Underground, surrounded by contagious laughter and young people doing similar work within their communities, was an environment where Payton Wade seemed to feel right at home.
Wade, the City of Milwaukee Youth Council (MYC) Representative for District 7, in Wisconsin, tries to create more opportunities for youth to have their voices heard.
“It’s very important for youth to be involved because when youth are talking to other youth they pay more attention when it’s coming from someone in their age bracket/someone they can relate too,” she said.
She first found out about the MYC when she signed up for the City of Milwaukee Earn and Learn program that places youth at different sites for summer employment. The Milwaukee Youth Council meets every second and fourth Wednesday at the City Hall around 4:30 p.m. Through that opportunity, she found out that she has a passion for politics just like her father who used to be an alderman.
Wade is an 18-year-old who graduated from Divine Savior Holy Academy (DSHA). She will be attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the fall. Wade enjoys singing, acting, running track, and she also played soccer in her early childhood.
The moment Wade realized that the MYC was a perfect fit for her and exactly where she belonged was when they took a trip to Washington D.C. to witness the Nation League of Cities Conference that also hosted all of the youth councils in the United States. During this trip she got a chance to meet politicians and observe the career that one day she would fill. Before being a part of the youth council, you could say Payton knew about politics, but did she really did not know in depth. This exposure helped her see that this is something she has a passion for and that her opinion is highly valued.
As far as Milwaukee, Wade would like to see progress and change such as more jobs and programs for teens. She plans to move away for college but will hopefully be back to better the city. Right now, the youth council is working on the #nofreerides campaign and how people should not be stealing cars. The simple fact that they are taking cars for joyrides and crashing them was what Wade disliked the most.
“We put out different initiatives, and we are actually working with the police department,” she said. “We are out there trying to get things done and fast.” Wade said that to really improve Milwaukee, we need more organizations that are taking action instead of just discussing solutions. She said it’s really easy to set up a meeting with the right people and come up with a solution, but to actually follow through and act on those is where it becomes difficult. The youth council is a prime example of how youth discuss the outcomes and physically go around solving the problems.
According to Wade, the MYC really stresses the fact that youth need to be heard. In order to solve a problem surrounding teens you need other productive young people to show them the way.
Wade has done her duty in bettering the community but said she still feels that she owes more. She plans to come back to Milwaukee after college