Up from the kids’ table: Youth chairs Youth Commission

Apr 8, 2021

Dartmouth has a new Youth Commission Chair, and he may be the youngest leader of a municipal body in Dartmouth’s history.

20-year-old resident and Town Meeting member Kempton Campbell was appointed to the Youth Commission last summer — in fact, he’s the most junior member — before becoming the commission chair just last month.

“I have a passion for local government,” he said.

Campbell said that previous Youth Commission Chair Jamie Jacquart invited him to join the commission after he supported the Youth Advocate position at Town Meeting last spring.

“The position of the Youth Advocate was taken out of the budget,” he explained. “As Town Meeting member I saw the need for a youth advocate and programs — so I stood up for the position.”

The Youth Advocate position was eventually restored (and has since been filled), and Jacquart invited Campbell to attend the next Youth Commission meeting.

The Dartmouth resident currently attends the University of Connecticut, where he is completing a double major in political science and human rights.

He balances school — and editing the campus newspaper — with his government duties as well as volunteering as a counsellor at Crisis Text Line, a global nonprofit that provides free and confidential mental health crisis intervention through text message. 

“I’m good at time management,” he laughed.

When Jacquart told the commission he was stepping down as chair, Campbell said that he originally decided not to put himself forward. 

“Being the newest member, I thought it was probably something that someone else should take over,” he said.

But when Jacquart went over the responsibilities and asked if he was interested, Campbell said he was — if the other commissioners agreed.

“They’re dedicated to the youth of this community and they’re willing to keep a different perspective on how to lead,” he noted of his fellow commissioners.

So he became the newest — and possibly the youngest — chair.

“I don’t know that for sure, but I’m probably one of the youngest,” Campbell laughed.

“It’s going really well,” he added. “Everyone is really accommodating, and they understand it’s going to take a little bit of learning, but I’m certainly up to the task.”

Thus far he’s been meeting with Youth Advocate Deloris Joseph as well as each commissioner one on one to hear their views on potential directions to take in the near future. 

“In the past we focused primarily on the youth,” he noted. “But we also want to expand that to family services...they all impact youth in the community.”

Campbell said he’s “very much enjoying” the job.

“I have a lot of support,” he said. “I work with really great people on the commission.”

One challenge is making the community aware of the services available for children and families.

“We’re coming up with ways to reach community members who may not be part of social media, or not as connected to the internet,” Campbell noted.

“We can provide these services and they can be there, but we really need people to know that they are there.”

As for the future, Campbell said he hopes to eventually do a public policy masters at UConn — but he also wants to stay active in local government.

“I’m hoping to continue on serving the town,” he said.