An approach that intentionally trains young people in community organizing and advocacy, youth-led activism also assists children and youth in putting these skills to action in order to alter power relations and create meaningful change throughout their communities. Through youth-led organizing, young people can employ activities such as political education and analysis, community research, campaign development, direct action, critical thinking and membership recruitment.
How Youth Engagement in Youth-Led Activism Happens
Youth-Led Protests — When young people can’t find adult allies, when the organizations and communities they are part of deny youth voice, and when society doesn’t budge, protest might be the most viable option. Youth-led protests can be the most powerful option children and youth have to transform society. There are countless protest activities, including sit-ins, picketing, #hashtags, walkouts, sit-ins, and more.
Youth-Led Media — Instead of allowing media to paint pictures of youth and their communities however they want to, young people can take up the mantle of journalism and truth-telling to share their own stories. Youth-led media can give children and youth a clear, concise voice to reach beyond their friends into the hearts of communities, cities, nations and the world.
Mutual Mentoring — Sometimes, simply acknowledging an adult as an ally isn’t enough. Mutual mentoring allows children and youth to be in empathetic, appropriately equitable relationships with adults. In these relationships, young people and adults are empowered to teach one another, support each other and build healthy, meaningful opportunities to grow together.
Needs for Youth Engagement in Youth-Led Activism
Education — Simply becoming engaged in an issue is the first step towards youth-led activism. However, learning about the politics, economics and social effects of issues being protested are key, too. Youth activists can research, study and critique things central to their community organizing efforts.
Training — Learning about issues is not all youth activists need. Training can be essential for youth-led activists to be successful. They can learn the skills needed and tactics that are vital for successful for powerful short-term and long-term campaigns designed to change the world.
Inspiration — The reality of youth activism today is that there is a lot of inspiration. However, finding it can be challenging for children and youth, as few sources are brave enough to share powerful stories of youth changing the world. Youtube, select media, and many other sources may provide important stories youth can relate to. Also, in communities around the world its important to see what’s happened before, and many communities have hidden histories of youth-led activism.
You Might Like…
- “Stories of Youth Changing the World“
- Youth as Advocates
- Youth and Teaching Social Justice
- Youth Community Organizing
Videos Elsewhere Online
Publications Elsewhere Online
- Strategies for Building Power and Youth Leadership from the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing
- An Emerging Model for Working with Youth from the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing
- Youth and Community Organizing Today from the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing
- Youth Organizing: Expanding Possibilities for Youth Development from the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing
- An Annotated Bibliography on Youth Organizing from the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing
- The West Coast Story: The Emergence of Youth Organizing in California from the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing
- A New Generation of Southerners: Youth Organizing in the South from the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing
- At a Crossroads: Youth Organizing in the Midwest from the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing
- Traditions and Innovations: Youth Organizing in the Southwest from the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing
- Urban Transformations: Youth Organizing in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC from the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing
- Building a Pipeline for Justice: Understanding Youth Organizing and the Leadership Pipeline from the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing –
- Building Transformative Leadership: Data on the Impacts of Youth Organizing from the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing
- New Forms & Tactics in a Changing Landscape from the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing
- Campaign Strategies to Unlock Foundation Funding for Youth Organizing from the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing
- Youth Organizing Financial Dashboard Template from the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing
- Bringing It Together: Uniting Youth Organizing, Development and Services for Long-Term Sustainability from the Movement Strategy Center
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how Freechild Institute can support youth/adult partnerships in your community or organization, contact us.