Sarah Das and Orc, her stuffed-toy whale, came to Kitchener council this week.
A “little-bit-nervous” Sarah and 13 other very smart kids substituted for the mayor, 10 councillors and several staff members in an enthusiastic My-Ideal-City debate.
Yours truly was designated to act as coach for 10-year-old Sarah while Orc was cared for by two school friends who had made her a lucky-charm bracelet to help boost confidence. They also made certain she could clearly see her black and white whale while they sat in the audience alongside Sarah’s very supportive parents and two energetic brothers.
“What’s your whale’s name?” asked her coach just before the debate.
“Orc,” replied Sarah.
“Dork?” asked her stunned coach-councillor.
“Orc like Orca,” she said, giggling away the attack of butterflies.
Sarah then successfully participated in the televised discussion and question-answer session about whether or not our community needs “fun and fitness.” During the event, she grinned but refused a whispered a suggestion from coach-councillor that she stir things up and grandstand to the media by taking an outraged stand against anyone ever having fun.
As she carefully read from a prepared statement about the benefits of fitness, I’m sure Sarah didn’t appreciate the fact she and the other kids were taking part in an exercise designed to eventually help combat Kitchener’s appalling level of voter-apathy.
While having a whale of a time with the kids, we’re hoping such debates will introduce children to their local council, spark interest in local government and improve voter-turnouts that, in recent years have plummeted to a low of 20-29 per cent.