CHEEKTOWAGA – A group of around 15 Cleveland Hill Middle School students participated in a youth and government round table discussion Wednesday.
The forum allowed students from the Youth and Government Club to get feedback on bills they wrote, from government officials at the state, county, and local level. The kids will present the bills during a trip to Albany next week.
“There is a lot of cynicism about government right now and I hope they are inspired by meeting people who actually do the job like Erie County Comptroller (Stefan) Mychajliw or Assemblywoman Monica Wallace. You know, if you see a problem, don’t just complain about it, get involved and fix it,” said Cleveland Hill Social Studies teacher Betty Haynes.
Mr. Mychajliw heard from students who would like to see better water treatment facilities and banning single-use carryout bags at the grocery stores.
“These are some bright, talented, smart students and they have great ideas. I think it’s important to encourage young students to be engaged in the political process. It is an important function that we do in government,” said Mr. Mychajliw.
He approached the forum as a way to teach the student that every idea comes with a cost and we must be willing to compromise.
“Adults have wonderful ideas in government and different ideas, and legislation, and proposals, but someone has to pay for it and I think that was an important lesson I wanted to share with them is that ideas are wonderful but you have to figure out ways to pay for them,” added Mr. Mychajliw.
The Comptroller’s daughter, Mia, is a student in the group. She and a classmate proposed using drug forfeiture money to help combat the opioid crisis by funding not for profit treatment facilities in zombie homes.
“For middle schoolers, I think they had some great ideas,” said Cheektowaga Councilmember Christine Adamczyk. “The zombie homes – good idea – it would be nice to see something happen in Cheektowaga with the zombie homes but I just don’t think they’re going to work in Cheektowaga, but maybe in a non-residential area, I would like to see something done.”
She says the town needs a multi-prong approach – stabilized the town’s drug court and get more inpatient beds in Cheektowaga.
“We need beds. I think we have enough outpatient facilities right now – we need inpatient beds,” says Ms. Adamczyk. “Put a wing off of St. Joe’s, that would be the perfect place for an inpatient unit.”
She also suggested constructing a facility somewhere along Broadway between Harlem Road and Union Road.
Assemblymember Monica Wallace and Great Lakes Alliance Water Project Manager Nate Drag also participated in the panel throughout the day.