Youth Engagement as Youth Specialists

Freechild Project adult ally teaching youth media making skills

Envisioning roles for youth to teach youth is relatively easy; seeing new roles for youth to teach adults is more challenging. Youth as specialists bring expert knowledge about particular subjects to programs and organizations, enriching everyone’s ability to be more effective.

Ways Youth Engagement as Youth Specialists Happens

Youth as Cultural Liaisons — Youth can share unique, meaningful and substantive information, wisdom, knowledge, ideas and critiques of culture. As specialists, they can have expertise on race, gender, age, education, and many other areas.

Youth Urban Planners — Working with adults as partners, youth urban planners can help design democratic places that enhance the significance and efficacy of places. They can also bring unique perspectives to private developments, allowing adults to have insights they wouldn’t gain otherwise.

Technology Specialists — Working with computers, the Internet, computer infrastructure and other areas their entire lives, young people today can be spectacular technology specialists. Their ideas and passion drive the future of technology, starting hundreds and thousands of years ago.

Needs for Youth Engagement as Youth Specialists

Education — Learning about their areas of knowledge, passion and ownership allows young people to have deep investment and engagement with the topics that interest them the most. Their education can be in any area they are passionate about, whether graffiti, poetry, construction, technology, or anything, so long as it moves beyond simply consuming learning and moves towards critiquing and building new knowledge.

Internet — The web provides people of all ages massive, moving and meaningful opportunities to develop and deepened their knowledge and wisdom about countless areas, allowing them to specialize in areas they are interested and the world needs.

Opportunities — Without substantial opportunities to be specialists, youth are inadvertently taught that their opinions are insignificant or not worthy of community attention. Nonprofits, government agencies, businesses and other organizations can readily create opportunities to engage youth as specialists.

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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 through youth specialists in your community or organization, contact us.

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