I had the really cool opportunity this weekend to present a social media session and co-present a media training session with VUE Weekly News Editor Samantha Power to participants of the Next Up Alberta leadership program.
Next Up Alberta is a leadership program for 18-32 year old interested in social change and social action, and is modelled after the British Columbia Next Up program (which I am told has been a successful program). This is the first time the program has been offered in Alberta and it aims to educate and train the participants in advocacy, lobbying, and community organizing – skills to be effective politically engaged citizens.
It is fair to say that one of the largest challenges facing our democracy in Canada is generational renewal. The demographic gap in all of our major political institutions can been seen with plain eyes and it puzzles many people in the 50 and older crowd. Being an under 30 year-old politically engaged citizen, I can completely understand why people my age would be turned off by the concept of being involved in a political organization dominated by their parents and grandparents generations. While some people believe this is the signal of doom and democratic demise, I optimistically believe it part of the evolution of our civil society and one that many of our traditional political institutions have been very slow to react to.
After spending an afternoon with the participants, I was really impressed with the drive and commitment that they have and the information and skills that the Next Up Alberta program is arming them with. I sincerely hope that the program is successful and able to empower and engage more young citizens in the years to come.