A member of the New York City Youth Council (NYCYC), Vanessa Acheampong-Tieku hails from District 16 and is thankful for the opportunities to work with a variety of people and see different perspectives during her time with the program. The NYCYC is a partnership between the New York City Council and Coro New York Leadership Center to enhance youth-adult partnerships and elevate youth voice in decision-making related to policy and practice.
Vanessa is in the midst of SAT prep and looking into colleges to apply to.
PBP: How did you become involved with PB?
Vanessa: In March, the city council came in and said we were going to do PB and everybody was excited; they told us the guidelines and that the ages to participate were thirteen and up. It gets the youth involved and engaged inside the community. There is a lot of young people and sometimes we’re not taken seriously. People think we’re all over the place and we’re not really doing anything so doing PB is a way to show that we’re actually doing something and can be involved. This is our community too; we’re the future. We’re getting involved now so that later on it’ll be easier.
PBP: What was your experience with outreach for PB?
Vanessa: I tried to think of a catchy slogan like “what would you do if you had a million dollars?” People hear “money” and then say “so you’re giving me money?” and then I could say “for the neighborhood.” I was able to walk away with ways to go beneath the surface, dig for the problems, and not judge a person by their appearance. I could go deeper than that because I was coming across different experiences.
PBP: Did you build up any other skills through the process?
Vanessa: Public speaking. Talking to you right now, I would’ve been shaking and my answers would’ve been shorter. By speaking with the whole New York City Council and experiencing PB, I was able to talk to lots of people. I approached people I never would have; I went out of my comfort zone. It made me think about what I was working towards and why it was important.
PBP: What kind of projects did you see voted on and implemented?
Vanessa: There was one school which needed a girl’s locker room. The boys had one while the girls didn’t. Then there were gym renovations, computer and science carts for elementary schools in the neighborhood, even parks renovations and school transportation.
PBP: Do you believe PB should be used in more places than NYC Youth Council?
Vanessa: I think PB should be used all over because it actually gets the community involved and you’re hearing people’s opinions and perspective on what they’d like to see change in their community. Everything comes from people getting involved. If you have this role in your community, you hear what others view as important; you get to listen to their opinion and decide together which will benefit the community more. Getting people involved is the main step.