Measure of Social Change Led By and
With Young People
By Adam Fletcher
For almost five years The Freechild Project
has been compiling resources from around the world in an effort
to promote social change by and with young people. A lot
of people have asked about how we decide which resources are
selected, and which are denied from being listed.
continuing commitment to transparency and openness, we offer the
following diagram as an illustration of which websites and
organizations are selected to be in our listings. This
tool in order to foster reflection, consideration, and growth by
individuals and organizations serving young people in a myriad
of ways. See the following explanation.
Click on any phrase for
We believe this model
represents the most powerful possibilities for young
people's participation throughout our society.
One of the goals of The
Freechild Project is to realize the full participation of all
people throughout society as equal members in decision-making
and action. We have developed this model in order to
represent our vision of democratic, community-oriented
participation for ALL people. Individuals and
organizations can use this model to start thinking about how
young people can be integrated throughout society.
The spiral represents the
non-linear motion of social change. You don't simply start in
one place and end in another; instead, it is a process that
continually evolves while hopefully growing larger. It has
been going on a lot longer than the present, and this model is
meant to acknowledge the past. The spiral also shows the
motion of opportunities becoming narrower as fewer people are
engaged. See the descriptions below.
Starting from the outside from
the tail of the Measure...
All community members equally make
decisions and take action.
This is the most optimal
position for social change by and with young people because it
engages every person within a community in decision-making and
action through democracy. Instead of simply seeing
community as geography, this approach embraces the roots of the
word [com = with] as a group of people working with unity.
Age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality,
language, ethnicity, and other qualities are embraced as
strengthening identity that contributes to a larger good, not as
segregating differences. All members experience inclusive,
meaningful, empowering participation that is the pinnacle and
goal of action and education for social justice. We
believe that this is the heart of democratic society.
Young people initiate change
while sharing decisions and action with adults.
This approach leverages the
skills and leadership of young people with the power of adults
in order to benefit the whole community. While young
people are recognized as the motivators of social change, adults
are engaged for their unique experience, talents, and abilities.
Young people initiate change
and take action.
By focusing on the skills and
leadership of young people, this approach leverages the power of
young people with the ability of young people to affect change
in the whole community. Young people are the impetus and
generators of social justice action that reaches to other young
people and throughout their communities.
Adults initiate change and
share decisions with young people.
The leadership of adults is
predominant, engaging young people as input-sharers instead of
movement-makers. Adults infuse the knowledge and ability
of young people through action in particular ways in order to
inform community social justice action.
Young people are consulted
and adults take action.
In this approach adults may
listen to young people during planning, decision-making, or
evaluation. This one-way flow of information does not
nurture cross-accountability between young people and adults.
In the middle of the Measure...
Young people are assigned
action but inform adult decision-making.
Adults use power over young
people through class credit, money, or mandates in order to
engage young people in community change. Young people
influence adults through direct and indirect communication.
Read more about the assumptions behind The Freechild Project here.
Click here to see Hart's Ladder of Young People's Participation.
Special thanks to
Adrienne Wiley-Thomas, Jimmy Livengood, Robb Wilcox, and Julie
Evans for their input.
2008. Adam Fletcher owns the copyright
for this material on behalf of The Freechild
Project. You are welcome to print out
this material for educational purposes
only - you cannot make any financial
gain from them without the explicit
permission of the author. You may not
photocopy any part of this material
without explicit permission of the
author. For more
information write info [at] freechild.org