When young people stand for their beliefs and understand the impact of their voices, they can represent their families and communities with pride, courage, and ability. Youth as advocates take action throughout our communities and society already. When this is deliberately created as a strategy for social change, the world can change together.
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.” ― William Faulkner
Ways to Engage Youth as Advocates
Youth Protesters — Acting alone or as a group, with or without adults, young people constantly protest injustice, intolerance and disengagement throughout our communities. There are many ways youth protest, including boycotts, civil disobedience, demonstrations, fasting and hunger strikes, marches, petitions, and strikes. They also hold teach-ins, occupy physical spaces, participate in culture jamming activities, and more.
Restorative Justice — Restorative justice can be a youth-led approach to resolving conflict in schools and throughout communities. It holds meaningful action in the center of a nonviolent process that engages youth as planners, facilitators and evaluators throughout the entirety of the process.
Youth-Led Community Organizing — When young people intentionally rally people of any age towards any cause focused on social justice and empowerment, they are acting as community organizers. Their efforts can transform individual attitudes, shared culture and entire systems that affect them, their communities, and all of society.
Tools to Engage Youth as Advocates
Education — Learning about social justice, empowerment, equity and other topics can form an important knowledge base for youth as advocates. Identifying the skills they can use can lead to education about advocacy techniques, communication methods, problem solving and other tactics necessary for social change. All of this can happen through youth/adult partnerships, or through youth-led programming.
Communication Devices — Using social media, texting and other communication devices as tools for advocacy can empower children and youth to create large-scale social transformation. Access to these tools can be vital to lifting up, sustaining, and scaling down youth advocacy.
Organizational Support — Youth as advocates do not have to have any organization behind them to substantiate their efforts and actions. However, this tool can be important for moving processes forward, interpreting systems and structures that are the targets of transformation, and more.
You Might Like…
- YEA Camp – Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp, was founded in 2009. It is a life changing camp for world changing teens. Our week long overnight camps are for 12-17 year olds who want to make the world a better place. Whether they care about climate change, bullying, homelessness, animal cruelty, gay rights, all of the above, or another important issue, YEA Camp will help them make an even bigger difference on the cause of their choice. We have campers from all over the country attend our camp. In 2016, YEA Camp sessions will be held in Massachusetts, New York, and California. YEA Camp is committed to empowering the youth into action around their cause.
- “Engaging Youth as Advocates for Peace & Security” by Women in Alternative Action
- “UN Malala Day: Youth as Advocates for Education” by Ama Owusu-Darko for Huffington Post
- “Safety First: New Courses Turn Youth into Advocates” by NCFY regarding commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking, runaway and homeless youth and trauma-informed care
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how Freechild Institute can support youth + social change in advocacy in your community or organization, contact us.