Myths About Youth
By Adam Fletcher
It is great to sit in
a room of allies and people who “get it”, but most
people work in high pressure environments where
Youth Voice seems quaint or non-essential. Following
are some myths and realities for people who want to
think “outside the box”.
Youth Voice sounds good on paper, but my
agency/situation is different.
it is true that each community is different, Youth
Voice is always present, whether or not it is
utilized. It is important to remember that what
works immediately and effectively in one may not
have the same results in another; however, that is
why every community needs to make its own space for
Youth Voice. By recognizing the desperate necessity
of engaging young people, all kinds of communities
can benefit. Community groups, organizations,
schools, and neighborhoods across Washington are
relying on Youth Voice because young people are
relying on them. Start by engaging young people in
small and doable tasks, and work your way into
larger projects over time. Eventually your community
will have a successfully customized strategy for
Youth Voice is all about youth.
Voice cannot ever be “all about youth.” Without
recognizing a larger community around them, young
people and adult allies cannot call for Youth Voice.
By specifically engaging young people, communities
recognize Youth Voice as being about more than young
people. Youth Voice is about children, youth, and
adults working in common - together. Youth Voice is
about communities and democracy, and other people.
MYTH #3: We
only need to focus on Youth Voice when there are
problems to deal with.
who works with communities needs Youth Voice
everyday to keep them honest, connected, effective,
and realistic. And let’s face it – our communities
have never existed without challenges – perhaps that
is because we keep waiting to engage young people.
Young people can contribute to everyday projects as
well as crisis intervention.
MYTH #4: It
is too hard to engage young people when I can
just do the work myself.
seasoned Youth Voice practitioner will tell you that
it is an everyday challenge to engage young people.
However, there are everyday rewards as well: adults
feel more satisfaction about their jobs, that
organizations become more successful meeting their
missions, and that youth feel more connected to the
world around them. Young people are also resources
in and of themselves: our communities cannot afford
to deny the abilities they possess any longer, and
with their seemingly boundless capacity to
contribute, children and youth may be our state’s
most sustainable, renewable energy source!
2010. Adam Fletcher owns the copyright
for this material on behalf of The Freechild
Project. You are welcome to print out
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