Making Involvement Meaningful

What makes involvement meaningful? The Freechild website insinuates that any activity led by young people inherently makes that activity meaningful for young people. Similarly, we allude to any topic being choosen by young people as being meaningful for young people to address. Are those assumptions true?

I believe that the reality is that anyone can make meaning of any action. Every movement makes simple acts meaningful:

Indian Independence Made Clothing Meaningful Mahatma Gandhi called on his followers to make their own clothes, as this was the surest way to throw off the shackles of the Empire. That simply charge- and massive metaphor- was demeaning to Indians who were successfully dressed in rich Western clothes. However, in wearing simple homemade shirts or pants or whatever, Gandhi believed every Indian could play a role in independence. He made meaning of the simple, humble act of making your own clothes.

Civil Rights Made Transportation Meaningful When Dr. King led the Montgomery Bus Boycott, he simply asked people to stay off public busing until public busing was integrated. While that came at an expensive cost to working class African Americans throughout the city, the economic crisis nearly crushed the city government there. The whites controlling the buses were forced to recognize African Americans as a powerful economic and human force within their community.

I believe this is similar with young people. Any child or youth can go out and do something that benefits only themselves, whether its crime or business or religion or work. How that happens has to do with engagement, which is the way we feel when we’re deeply connected to something. Some schools in Japan have students clean classrooms; getting sprayed with firehoses, sicced on by police dogs and arrested was the most meaningful thing in the lives of some child activists involved in Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s march on Birmingham. 
We must explore what makes involvement meaningful for ourselves, for the young people we work with and for society. Only then should we become concerned about making more young people involved.

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