“Integrationist!” I stood gawking, carefully looking out at the audience. Suddenly the woman started laughing. When everyone else laughed too, I joined in. I thought they hadn’t got my point, but luckily somebody had.
I recently spoke at a conference about Youth Integration. Youth integration is the essential next step in the movement The Freechild Project as been at the forefront of for the last 10 years.
After all these years of promoting youth engagement and youth voice, I have decided to further the conversation by addressing the root of the problem. We don’t need youth voice because adults aren’t listening. We don’t need youth engagement because youth are disengaged. Society needs more than youth voice, youth engagement, youth involvement, youth empowerment, and all these approaches because young people are segregated currently. Society needs youth integration.
Youth integration happens in many ways. Here are some strategies I have identified.
Youth Integration Strategies
- Policies, rules, and laws prohibiting youth segregation.
- Prohibit all age-based discrimination and replace them with ability testing or other approaches.
- Teaching all young people and all adult professionals about youth integration.
- Teaching parents about youth integration.
- Creating public education / social marketing / marketing campaigns about youth integration.
- Dedicating budgets that reflect and address youth integration objectives.
- Teaching all tops levels of government decision-makers about youth integration.
- Strengthening all current youth integration activities, including youth councils, service learning programs, community organizing campaigns, and school-based programs.
- Fully equal integration of youth on all public boards including school boards.
- Increased support for and facilitation of youth integration programs.
- Increased recognition of the positive, powerful ways of young people.
- Change curriculum of schools to diversify how and what students learn about young people.
- Public workshops for strengthening youth integration throughout the community, parenting, and family life.
- Strengthen the capacities of educational, social service, and nonprofit sectors to co-ordinate, monitor, and evaluate youth mainstreaming.
These are some systems-oriented strategies I’ve discovered that can integrate youth. What would you add to the list?