Is Your Town Ready To… Have Its Own Youth Action Council?
You have decided that your town needs a youth action council, and you are sure that you are going to make it happen yourself. But is your town really ready for a Youth Action Council? Ask yourself:
Have you or the adults who are going to work with the Youth Action Council completed basic youth voice training? You may think you want to engage youth voice until you hear something you don’t want to. If you aren’t used to honesty and authentic youth voice, think about sitting-in on another youth council in your area, or another program where youth voice is deliberately and authentically engaged. You should attend a Youth Voice 101 training.
Are you ready to commit to it through “thick and thin”? Just because you open the doors and allow young people to come through doesn’t mean youth are going to come flooding in. By the same token, Youth Action Councils can be like Cascadia in the winter: when it rains, it pours. Before beginning your Youth Action Council you should have a real recruitment plan, devised with young people, to ensure that people know about your efforts. You should also have a membership plan that provides substantive training for youth to ensure that whoever participates can contribute meaningfully.
Is your town responsible in other areas? A city, neighborhood, or municipality that does not do a fair job of engaging its all of its cities will have a difficult time concieving of how to meaningfully involve youth. However, a Youth Action Council can serve as a template for engaging the whole community. Adapting the Cycle of Student Voice, a community can develop its own process for citizen engagement, extending the intentions of youth voice throughout its population.
If you feel you’re up to the challenge of creating a Youth Action Council, you can prepare by researching different examples on The Freechild Project website. CommonAction also offers Youth Voice 101 training, Basics of Youth Action Councils training, and a training called “Co-Constructing Communities”. For more information, contact us.