AMSTERDAM–Avianka Aventurin of St. Maarten descent is Amsterdam’s first Youth Mayor. Aventurin (28) was announced the winner during a gala award ceremony in Amsterdam on Monday evening and received the title from Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema.
Aventurin, management assistant at the social assistance foundation MaDi in Amsterdam, was selected from three candidates. An independent jury and the many online votes determined Aventurin as the winner. Aventurin was born in Rotterdam to St. Maarten parents.
As youth mayor, Aventurin will act as a bridge between youngsters and politics. In the coming year, she will regularly sit with Amsterdam’s aldermen and policy makers to discuss the issues affecting the city’s youth.
The new youth mayor stands for diversity, optimism and joining together. She wants youngsters to become more visible, but she also wants more attention for the more vulnerable of this group. She said she is very well aware of what it means to be vulnerable, as she was severely abused as a child, although not by her biological parents.
Aventurin spoke about the abuse by her stepfather in an interview with journalist Otti Thomas for the “In the Spotlight” series of the Ocan Foundation for Dutch Caribbean persons living in the Netherlands which was featured in The Daily Herald’s Weekender in June 2018.
“Items were thrown at me. I was put barefoot out in the snow. I would be hit so hard that I hyperventilated. I was severely abused as a teenager. On top of that, I was assaulted multiple times as a child. I had severe low self-esteem and suicidal tendencies,” she said. Her belief in God and her joy for gospel has helped her a lot to come to terms with what has happened.
Aventurin discovered her love for working with youngsters a few years ago when she and three colleagues working at the Poverty Alleviation Department of the Municipality Amsterdam started the youth project YoPro! The pilot was a great success and was a life-changing experience for 27 youngsters. Through this project, Aventurin was inspired to work with the youth.
Working at the Ministry of Justice and Security in The Hague for a while as management assistant, she made a lot of contact with youngsters on her own initiative. For example, she visited a detention centre for youngsters. Aventurin also has political experience as the secretary of the board of the ChristianUnion party in Amsterdam, a function she took up early 2017.
Aventurin speaks the Dutch language well, but that certainly did not come easily, having been raised in English. She took extra Dutch lessons for seven years to learn to speak the language well. She was raised by her mom, a single mother. Aventurin does not have a university degree, but she learned a lot in the course of her career, she said.
The new youth mayor would like to be a role model, an inspiration for her generation and the one after that.
“I want to show to all youngsters with a migration and immigration background that in the Netherlands everything is possible if you have the willpower and the dedication to work for it. I also want to show youngsters that the right attitude and character and respect are very important and that you can get far with optimism,” she said.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/85370-avianka-aventurin-is-first-amsterdam-youth-mayor