Keeping Youth Programs Relevant

The National League of Cities is an organization that works across the country to “help city leaders build better communities”. One of their initiatives is called the Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, or YEF. In a recent publication, YEF proposed there are four primary ways youth programs can ensure their relevancy in cities: Coordinate systemsContinue reading “Keeping Youth Programs Relevant”

Are You Tokenizing Youth?

Tokenism happens whenever adults put youth in formal and informal positions without any substance, purpose, or power in order to say they have youth on board. Appointing youth this was is a symbolic gesture towards Youth Voice that is meant to demonstrate youth engagement and appease youth and adult advocates. Its supposed to stop peopleContinue reading “Are You Tokenizing Youth?”

Youth On A Pedestal

There’s a special place where young people are placed in stark contrast to their roles in our daily lives. Typically, young people are segregated from adults, compelled to follow rules and laws they didn’t make, and shown what to do with themselves through advertising, education, family life, and community norms. Nowhere along the way areContinue reading “Youth On A Pedestal”

Convenient or Inconvenient Youth Voice

Youth Voice is being thrown around these days as something special, unique, and never wrong. The simple fact is that while all children and youth are powerful beyond measure and important beyond words, Youth Voice is nothing that should be romanticized or pedestaled. It should be integrated, normalized, and mainstreamed, but not worshiped or seenContinue reading “Convenient or Inconvenient Youth Voice”

Equality, Self-Led, or Equity? The 6-7-8 Debate

Somewhere in the realm of youth participation there’s a geeky, but important, argument that’s been raging for almost 20 years. Its the 6, 7, 8 Debate, and following is my response. Roger Hart, then a research sociologist with UNESCO, studied several hundred organizations that involved children in decision-making in the early 1990s. In his 1994Continue reading “Equality, Self-Led, or Equity? The 6-7-8 Debate”

Youth Integration Strategies

“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 beenContinue reading “Youth Integration Strategies”

International Youth Involvement Role Models

Fun fact about the US and youth involvement! Since the United States is not a signatories to the Convention on the Rights of the Child there is no legal precedent for youth involvement here! Article 12 of the CDC states: Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views theContinue reading “International Youth Involvement Role Models”

Addendum: Not Post-Youth

I want to add something to my earlier post on “So-Called Youth Issues“: we’re not in an era of some type of “post-youth” analysis. While I want young people to focus on issues that are beyond their demographic, I do not want adults to think that for one minute we should respond in kind by ending our workContinue reading “Addendum: Not Post-Youth”

So-Called “Youth Issues”

The myth of so-called “youth issues” is pervasive throughout our communities, as young people are routinely segregated from adults throughout society, including mainstream decision-making, problem-solving and policy choices. There has been a frequent temptation to pigeonhole children and youth by focusing on schools, children’s healthcare, youth homelessness, child labor, afterschool programs, social work, nutrition, andContinue reading “So-Called “Youth Issues””

Involving Youth in Government

Good news! There is more interest in youth involvement in government than ever before! Moving from simplistic youth pages on government websites and traditional youth forums, Youth Voice is springing up from small town administration to state legislative youth advisory councils as never before. Some activities appear to be typical or traditional, and some areContinue reading “Involving Youth in Government”