Y4D4 Getting City Excited for Election
Thursday, August 02, 2012
Worcester’s fourth district is home to an eclectic group of people from Main South’s neighborhood to college students from Becker, Clark, and portions of WPI and Holy Cross. The area is also home to the project that started Worcester’s Youth Council – Youth 4 District 4, or Y4D4, which fifteen-year-old Caleb Encarnacion-Rivera has helped build.
“I think our drive comes from the fact that even though I can’t vote, I’m still a part of this community and so are other youth,” he said. “We want to show that our community does care and is a strong one.”
Part of Being a Community
For Encarnacion-Rivera, it’s is all about reminding residents of District 4 that voting is a part of being a community, even for the youth that cannot make it to the ballot box just yet.
“Being a part of this community means that even though we can’t vote, let’s contribute to getting out he vote,” he said. “The decision also affects us in terms of youth jobs and education. The decision affects us even though we can’t vote. We would love to contribute to that.”
Y4D4 has already been taking part in community events, door-knocking, and phone banking. Right now, the group is staying focused on the September primaries but they’re staying strong through to the election.
“As we get closer to November, after the primaries, we’re still going to plan some more door knocking days and phone banking. August 25th is National Voting Day, and we’re planning on working with The Initiative that day, hosting a stand out on Main Street to get people registered.”
The group will also have a table at National Night Out on August 7th to inform people of their rights when they vote.
So with this much effort, what’s keeping Worcester voters from turning out in Worcester’s District 4?
Low Turnout in District 4
Encarnacion-Rivera says that the main reason he’s hearing from voters is lack of education.
“I’m hearing a lot of people aren’t registered,” he said. “There’s a lack of education about why voting is important in our district. We need to get people to understand why voting is important and educate people.”
“One main goal is voter turnout especially in District 4. It’s always very low. We want more people to vote to show our strength as a community,” he said.
Y4D4 has been giving youth a chance to get involved in real issues and take a stand to speak out about what matters in their community.
“Youth is such an important element to our community. We have enthusiasm, and we want to show we have the potential,” Encarnacion-Rivera said. “We are the leaders of tomorrow and also the leaders of today, and I’m a firm believer in that.” Encarnacion-Rivera is also a member of the Governor’s Statewide Youth Council, representing Worcester Country. “We have a lot of power and authority to make things happen,” he said.
“I have seen what youth can do, and I think it’s important that youth take inactive because they are a part of the this community,” he said.
How They Got Started
The youth group began out of Councilor Sarai Rivera’s election campaign. He says that a major part of her platform was making sure youth had a voice in the city.
“We gathered youth together and began Y4D4, which started as a collaboration with her campaign and supporting her campaign,” he said. “We had a good group, did door-to-door canvassing, went to events, and even did a flash mob. We did a lot of different things.”
After celebrating the victory of Rivera’s election, the group took a loss when members left for college. They then decided to take on a more active role, forming a youth council.
“Since 2008, there has been an effort to create a Worcester Youth City Council,” he said. This venture gave Encarnacion-Rivera a chance to have real experience. The group drafted a mission statement, sent out applications to schools, and held an interview process.
The Worcester Youth Council had its first swearing-in in June.
“It took us a while to get it going,” he said, “but we have been very active in the community.”
The group has participated in neighborhood meetings, crime watch meetings, and community events including the Columbian festival. They are looking forward to both the Latin festival and meeting with Elizabeth Warren at her official office opening on Monday.
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