Taken in daily doses, Youth Voice is one of the leading nutritional ingredients in effective community improvement. Each of the flavors of Youth Voice provides important nutrients that are missing from the regular social change diet, and boosts energy in remarkable ways!
Youth Voice is rich in:
- Diversity – Youth voices, no matter how racially or economically homogenized a community’s population, are inherently more diverse than the adult population.
- Creativity – Young people have long represented the lost, repressed and unimagined possibilities of society. Let’s move from representation to active engagement!
- Power – Children and youth represent a vastly untapped well of hope, energy and ability, and one that is largely missing from any conversations about making a better society for everyone.
There are a lot of different ways that your community can get it’s daily dose of Youth Voice. You could start with the regular and deliberate engagement of children and youth in community activities, and integrate dialog between young people and adults that culiminates in shared goal-setting and cross-cultural education. Try active and empowered youth involvement in all community activities, including government, nonprofits, places of worship, and other areas. Support youth social entreprenuership by actively giving to enterprises led by children and youth, and offer programs and classes that engage, educate, support and sustain youth engagement throughout your community. Move beyond simply appointing youth to boards: hire young people to positions treated as the unique providence of adults, including city planning, program staffing and project evaluation. Develop opportunities for children, youth and parents to learn and teach each other – particularly young people from communities where traditional authoritarian parenting is the norm. Encourage decision-makers from throughout your community to postpone their choices until young people have safe and supportive opportunities to contribute their ideas.
These activities and more can help integrate Youth Voice into the daily life of your neighborhood, town or city! For more information, resources and ideas check out The Freechild Project Youth Voice Toolkit