BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Ritika Sinha-Chaudhuri, a senior at the Academy of Allied Health & Sciences, has been working with the township and Mayor Angie Devanney on a new program called the Mayor's Youth Council. The council held its first meeting in August and holds bi-monthly Zoom meetings to establish an agenda. 

Sinha-Chaudhuri was inspired to start this council with the township to bridge the gap between Berkeley Heights and its students. 

“We want to make sure that the diverse voices of students are represented while also giving back to the community through service,” Sinha-Chaudhuri said. 

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The main pillars of the organization are advocacy, passion, and service. The committee has given members a glimpse into government’s importance in facilitating change.

Since the first meeting, members have worked on multiple service projects. The first item on the council’s agenda is to make check-in calls and write letters to the senior citizens of Berkeley Heights to ensure a sense of community and connectedness. In addition, the council is working on setting up a community fridge along with food and toy drives for the upcoming holidays.

Public Relations chairperson and Governor Livingston senior Brianna Cagan works alongside Sinha-Chaudhuri to organize service projects. She looks forward to seeing the council gain ground and make real change in town. 

Cagan said, “I would describe the Mayor’s Youth Council as one of the first organizations in Berkeley Heights to truly make sure that students have a voice in government.”

From the start, the Mayor’s Youth Council sought to engage Berkeley Heights youth and encourage civic engagement. Sinha-Chaudhuri also wanted to have student representation in local government to give members the opportunity for their voices to be heard. 

She plans to focus on interacting with younger kids in town through a mock council trial in the newly renovated municipal complex. 

She said, “Civic engagement is extremely important in our world and can teach so much about taking initiative and making change.” 

Mayor Devanney is impressed with all the work that the Mayor’s Youth Council has accomplished so far. She is excited to see what the future holds, especially for the young members of the council who have demonstrated strong leadership qualities. 

Devanney said, “The most important aspect of the council is self-governance and the committee developing programs and events that they feel helps them connect to the Town, and the Town to our younger generations.” 

The Mayor's Youth Council has lots of exciting projects in motion that both the members and Mayor Devanney cannot wait to see come to life.

For more information about joining the council, email ritikaksc@gmail.com.