Quotes about Youth Engagement

Freechild Project youth at a summer camp in Seattle

These quotes, both popular and unknown, may prove to be inspiring, thought- provoking insights that can inspire and motivate young people to take Action. Or, they may simply be words of wisdom or advice. Anyway you read them, remember the working motto of the Freechild Institute:

Only through action do words take meaning.

— Freechild Institute motto

Quotes on Social Change

“One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.” — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come to because your liberation is bound up in mine, we can work together.” — Lilla Watson

“I don’t believe in charity. I believe in solidarity. Charity is vertical, so it’s humiliating. It goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other and learns from the other. I have a lot to learn from other people.” — Eduardo Galeano

“Washing ones hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.”

— Paulo Freire

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

“Yo, activism, attackin’ the system, the blacks and latins in prison Numbers of prison they victim lackin’ in the vision… Sh- — and all they got is rappin to listen to…” — Talib Kweli

“Its much more than being a farmer… you’re out to help people and make this little part of the world farm- able and productive, make your little street or block a better place, make the world healthier.” — A youth participant in GRuB

Quotes on Democracy

“The freedom and human capacities of individuals must be developed to their maximum but individual powers must be linked to democracy in the sense that social betterment must be the necessary consequence of individual flourishing.” — Henry Giroux

“Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.”

― Howard Zinn

“Darkness cannot drive out hate; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long- range risks and costs of comfortable inaction. — John F. Kennedy

“Students should not only be trained to live in a democracy when they grow up; they should have the chance to live in one today.” — Alfie Kohn

“Any situation in which some individuals prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence. The means used are not important; to alienate human beings from their own decision-making is to change them into objects.” – Paulo Freire

Quotes on Education

“It is because modern education is so seldom inspired by a great hope that it so seldom achieves great results. The wish to preserve the past rather than the hope of creating the future dominates the minds of those who control the teaching of the young. ” — Bertrand Russell

“Education is education. We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow. Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human.”

— Malala Yousafzai

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” — Marianne Williamson, as written for Nelson Mandela.

“Education should not be the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” — William Butler Yeats

“Without the voice of students, schools serve no purpose. They are nothing but institutions where adults run and tell you what you need to know in order to continue this tradition of, this cycle of “we have master’s degrees and we know what’s best for you so just shut up and deal with it.” — High school student, as quoted by Rubin and Silva

“We believe that to confront the challenges our communities face, people- — not just their advocates- — need to define issues and develop strategies for action. [We] foster leadership, literacy and language development among its participants and provides them an enriching job experience that prepares them for college and for careers in community organizing, advocacy and services delivery.” — Youth Action Research Group

“Students do not shed their constitutional rights… at the schoolhouse gate.” Tinker v. Des Moines

“Your life, time, and brain should belong to you, not to an institution.”

— Grace Lwellyn

“Students should not only be trained to live in a democracy when they grow up; they should have the chance to live in one today.” – Alfie Kohn

Quotes on Young People

“If we are to reach real peace in this world… we shall have to begin with children.” — Mahatma Gandhi

“This is a time for bold measures. This is the country, and you are the generation.” — Bono

“You can never stop and as older people, we have to learn how to take leadership from the youth and I guess I would say that this is what I’m attempting to do right now.”

— Angela Davis

“Great changes in the destiny of mankind can be effected only in the minds of little children.” — Sir Herbert Read

“This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.” — Robert Kennedy.

“The secret message communicated to most young people today by the society around them is that they are not needed, that the society will run itself quite nicely until they — at some distant point in the future — will take over the reigns. Yet the fact is that the society is not running itself nicely… because the rest of us need all the energy, brains, imagination and talent that young people can bring to bear down on our difficulties. For society to attempt to solve its desperate problems without the full participation of even very young people is imbecile.” — Alvin Toffler

Children, after all, are not just adults-in-the-making. They are people whose current needs and rights and experiences must be taken seriously. — Alfie Kohn

“We are all creative, but by the time we are three of four years old, someone has knocked the creativity out of us. Some people shut up the kids who start to tell stories. Kids dance in their cribs, but someone will insist they sit still. By the time the creative people are ten or twelve, they want to be like everyone else.” — Maya Angelou

“Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which children are tortured. But we can reduce the number of tortured children.” — Albert Camus

“…the anxiety children feel at constantly being tested, their fear of failure, punishment, and disgrace, severely reduces their ability both to perceive and to remember, and drives them away from the material being studied into strategies for fooling teachers into thinking they know what they really don’t know.” — John Holt

“A century that began with children having virtually no rights is ending with children having the most powerful legal instrument that not only recognizes but protects their rights.” — Carol Bellamy on the CRC

“The more we increase the active participation and partnership with young people, the better we serve them. … And the more comprehensively we work with them as service partners, the more we increase our public value to the entire community.” — Carmen Martinez

“This is not class warfare, this is generational warfare. This administration and old wealthy people have declared war on young people. That is the real war that is going on here. And that is the war we’ve got to talk about.”

– James Carville

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home—so close and so small they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person… Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

“The young, free to act on their initiative, can lead their elders in the direction of the unknown… The children, the young, must ask the questions that we would never think to ask, but enough trust must be re-established so that the elders will be permitted to work with them on the answers.” — Margaret Mead

Quotes on Youth Involvement

“Our youth are not failing the system; the system is failing our youth. Ironically, the very youth who are being treated the worst are the young people who are going to lead us out of this nightmare.” — Rachel Jackson

“Rather than standing or speaking for children, we need to stand with children speaking for themselves. We don’t need a political movement for children… [we need to] build environments and policies for our collective future.”

— Sandra Meucci

“If you had a problem in the Black community, and you brought in a group of White people to discuss how to solve it, almost nobody would take that panel seriously. In fact, there’d probably be a public outcry. It would be the same the for women’s issues or gay issues. But every day, in local arenas all the way to the White House, adults sit around and decide what problems youth have and what youth need, without ever consulting us.” — Jason, 17 years old, Youth Force Member, Bronx, NY

“If it is clear youth will be encouraged and listened to, and preparations are well thought out, you are set up for success… Having youth on boards and commissions has been a rewarding experience for everyone involved. Youth feel their voice is valued and that they have an impact on city decisions. Adult members benefit from the fresh perspective, optimism, and enthusiasm youth bring to the table.” — Matt McCarte

“Youth involvement has moved forward. It is no longer seen as a rebellious act, the way it was a few decades ago.” — Maureen A. Sedonaen

“…Youth voice is crucial to the overall effectiveness of service- learning programs. Youth voice has a tremendous impact on program participation and program outcomes, both short term and long term.” — Education Commission of the States

“We all benefit by having young people exposed to the ‘way things are done’ in a democratic society. Isn’t it time… to ‘tap the power of youth?’” — Hans Bernard

“I raise my voice not so that i can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.” ― Malala Yousafzai

“What kind of twisted message do we send when we tell youth they are judged mature, responsible adults when they commit murder, but silly, brainless kids when they want to vote?… Lowering the voting age is the just, fair way to set things straight.” — National Youth Rights Association

“Children learn how to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions.”

 — Alfie Kohn

“There’s a radical – and wonderful – new idea here… that all children could and should be inventors of their own theories, critics of other people’s ideas, analyzers of evidence, and makers of their own personal marks on the world. Its an idea with revolutionary implications. If we take it seriously.” — Deborah Meier

Quotes on Adults

“It used to be believed that the parent had unlimited claims on the child and rights over him. In a truer view of the matter, we are coming to see that the rights are on the side of the child and the duties on the side of the parent.” — William G. Sumner

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“Today’s ephebiphobia is the latest installment of a history of bogus moral panics targeting unpopular subgroups to obscure an unsettling reality: Our worst social crisis is middle- Americans own misdirected fear.” — Mike Males

“The young, no doubt, make mistakes; but the old, when they try to think for them, make even greater mistakes.” ― Bertrand Russell

“I am convinced that most people do not grow up… We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies, and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are innocent and shy as magnolias.” ― Maya Angelou

“Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.” ― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

“My message is that we’ll be watching you. This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. Yet I am one of the lucky ones. People are suffering.”

― Greta Thunberg

“All I am saying in this book can be summed up in two words: Trust Children. Nothing could be more simple, or more difficult. Difficult because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves, and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.” — John Holt

Quotes on Youth

“I have seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked…” — Allen Ginsberg

“[Did they] use your years to psyche you out; you’re too old to care, you’re too young to count?” — Indigo Girls

“We showed that we are united and that we, young people, are unstoppable.”

— Greta Thunberg

“Don’t criticize what you can’t understand, your sons and your daughters are beyond your command.” — Bob Dylan

“Kids, I wish every mom and dad would make a speech to their teenagers and say, ‘Kids, be free, be whatever you are, do whatever you want to do, just as long as you don’t hurt anybody. And remember kids, I am you friend.’” — from the musical Hair.

“…we condemned them, our children, for seeking a different future. We hated them for their flowers, for their love, and for their unmistakeable rejection of every hideous, mistaken compromise that we had made throughout our hollow, money- bitten, frightened, adult lives. — June Jordan

Protest Slogans

Youth can be the leaders of tomorrow — if we procrastinate.

Ain’t no power like the power of youth cos the power of youth don’t stop!

If you must dream of the world you want to live in, dream out loud!

Youth are the solution — not the problem! Nothing about us without us is for us.

You Might Like…

The Freechild Project Youth-Driven Programming Guide by Adam Fletcher
Order The Freechild Project Youth-Driven Programming Guide!

54 responses to “Quotes about Youth Engagement”

  1. Like minded people move together towards a certain goal.

  2. Abubakar sadiku ringim

    Thank you very much i need to came in touch via Email i really interested toward this motivational quotes

  3. I’m an executive member of district youth council, I’ve found this article do inspiring and propelling. I’ll do everything within reason to push for youth involvement in my district and country Uganda, may God be with us all

  4. Well articulated, I have enjoyed!

  5. this is just fabulous

  6. Light for the Youth

    This is an amazing initiative.

  7. Very inspirational quotes to power youth, great hint and with brights future trends.

  8. You’re doing a great job. Quotes are inspiring many people. Keep sharing a excellent stuff.

  9. Students are bringing increasingly more understanding and revel in into the academic placing than ever before. When in history have college students been in a position to teach the lecturers and be an instrumental component to the academic process as a great deal as they may be now? This shift has continued to push the attitude that educators aren’t any longer virtually dispensers of knowledge; however rather are facilitators and instigators of self-directed studying by students. In this environment, educators can learn simply as plenty from their students as the students can examine from them

    1. Hi Pinky, and thanks for your note! You might like our sister program called SoundOut, which has been promoting student/adult equity in schools since 2002. If you’re interested, its at https://soundout.org

  10. You’re quotes are amazing helping a lot of people.Keep it up and keep sharing your value able thoughts.

  11. Nice and so inspiring quotes about today’s youth thanks for sharing such a wonderful post and keep posting for inspire more.

  12. Thanks alot dear author
    I am really inspired and I know this will also add up to my leaning stakes as I join the rest of the youth to liberate my crying and bleeding country Uganda.

  13. This article was really entertaining, I completely agree with the “generational warfare” quote the most. Today’s youth are the backbone of America and it will be a scary thing to watch as today’s politicians start to get replaced with our youth, and how it will play out with new policies, tax plans and so on. Teens need to get involved in politics

  14. I love this quote about the youth, I was once a youth president in a Church about six years ago, today I want to go into politics because I find out that our men has failed the youth all over Africa, but here in Nigeria is different from other countries in Africa, some of the leaders in Nigeria is older than the country, so we the youth of Nigeria and Africa need to stand up for ourselves and our future, am okeke Nnamdi Nelson by name from imo state Nigeria, C. P👑

  15. […] finally I found this protest slogan that can actually pass out for a saying/quote on freechild.org where I also got most of the quotes you […]

  16. Comr. Ogbonna emma Ihedioha

    So great, Am Comrade Ogbonna Emma Ihedioha from Abia State, Nigeria. Am a youth leader in my society, am really working hard to see that my follow youths are carried along in governance. I would like you to be communicating me always in order to improve my ideals….once again i thank you for your inspirational quotes concerning the youths, more grace to you.

  17. Youth is the phase where impossible looks possible and unbelievable looks believable and this is a phase where we can rock …
    ….so let’s rock

  18. I really appreciate the efforts of this site, ‘freechild.org,towards the lives changing of youth,realization of giants in young people in other to build an environment where there will be sensitization for good governance among youths and the adults. More grace from above, keep it up. Thanks.

  19. This is an impressive and inspiring article. I would like to add a few quotes I myself find quite stimulating.
    1. Anything a man can do, a man can better.
    2. If the intentions are true, the inspiration will be divine.
    3. Give your youth the chances that you never had, so that they can reach the heights that you never did.
    4. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default. J.K. Rowling.

  20. Hon. Abdoulie Ceesay

    I found this very interesting…. I am Honorable Abdoulie Ceesay a young parliamentarian in the Gambia National Assembly… serving as the parliamentary youth caucus of the Gambia… I want to be mentored through your site…. I am impress and want to be in contact with you all the time to amiable me improve my skills in advancing the agenda of youths in parliament.

  21. i want to be part/actively involved in this Movement.. so as to Replicate this Experience in my Locality.

  22. Students are bringing more and more knowledge and experience into the educational setting than ever before. When in history have students been able to teach the teachers and be an instrumental part to the educational process as much as they are now? This shift has continued to push the mindset that educators are no longer simply dispensers of knowledge; but rather are facilitators and instigators of self-directed learning by students. In this environment, educators can learn just as much from their students as the students can learn from them

  23. Nice platform and would appreciate ur efforts and suggestions on how to also make online motivational youth group grow… We strictly into motivations and inspiration
    We have youth from various fields of professions across d globe… I created d group, we came together to inspire each other grow
    Ur support base on ideals will really be much appreciated

  24. Dear Adam, I am most delighted to have been able to come in contact with your organisation’s website. I have been highly inspired by your posted quotes on young people changing the world. I came in touch with it when my team at Felanio Edutainment Consult and I were searching for Contents toward the celebration of the 2017 IYD. Thanks for being a blessing to young people.

  25. Hi, i have been reading through different youth articles and am a Namibian youth citizen . i have a desire to be involved in youth activities in our country and so i came up with a page on facebook “Namibian Youth Community”, to allow varies youth individuals to interact .. new ideas on this can help me a lot

  26. finally this is what have being waiting for, kudos to you guys

  27. So inspiring….keep it up

  28. Awesome..!
    The level of development in youths determines the destination of our societies.

  29. This quotes inspired many young youth including me I’m from somalia and this will help me as peace ambassador thank you so much

    1. Awesome dear I’m Youth Chairman from Somalia kindly can you in touch with me siyatadeso@gmail.com so that we can consolidate a lot from our country.

  30. Agbodemu Ibrahim

    Hello Adam. This are quotes to inspire the youths of the world most especially Africa to come out and stand for what we believe in. Our full participation is needed in government, I believe with good mentoring and being self determined we can make a huge change #YouthAgenda2019 #YouthGoverananceinNigeria

    I will like to have your Mail Adam so you could help us with some write ups on Youth Governance and youth development.

      1. Hi Adama Fletcher,i am David Stanley a third year student at Nairobi university and a youth motivator in my cinstituency and we have move far in terms of youths motivation and empowerment but we have been expressing so many challenges especially financial problems in moving the process,,please i would to request you and your closed friends kindly to help me let the process continue..we what to go abroad and be a beacon of hopes not only in Kenya but the entire of Africa and the world atlarge.please you can visist my e-mail.olemeikashdavid77@gmail.com

  31. Adesanya Adeshola

    Wow…so inspiring!
    I’m an advocate of Youth Empowerment and involvement in governance. I believe this is the only way to eradicate all forms of terrorism and other social vices. Back here in my dear country Nigeria, I’m working on a Youth Empowerment project on the platform of African Church Youth Association which I’m leading.

    I’ll appreciate any form of support and partnership that can facilitate the achievement of this project. Thanks and God bless!

    1. Hi Adesanya, and thank you for writing. Please send an email to info@freechild.org and let me know what I can do to support you.

  32. wonderful inspiration for young minds…it had become necessary……thank u so much……

  33. Awesome… I’m a change agent for my country, Nigeria, and presently I’m trying to work on something for youths. I believe in us. I believe in youth inclusion in governance as it was during the post colonial era. I believe the future is Now! I would love more help on this, please. I’ll be eternally grateful.

    1. Can we talk, please? Nigeria needs us, Desperately!!

    2. @Havila , @Ugonma and any interested youth in practical bring about change: go to INEC website and download all d polling booth in ur state, I’ve done my own state(Kwara) of abt 1800 units. This will guide u each Ward jurisdiction, then start work immediately on friends(youths) across d state so that no Ward-polling units will b left untouched. Then form ourselves a formidable groups which will b metamorphosed latter to pickup political party. Alot more programs

  34. Inspiring quotes!!! Thank you.

  35. very inspiring indeed, I like it. if all and every youth take those in their mind, there is no doubt that this world of less peaceful and unsafe can be changed positively.
    its up to us to have positive attitude to word people.

    be blessed.

  36. Good one.. I’ve learnt a lot through this site. Thank you.

  37. Living in a small town where many youths are misled by politics,where many youths are drop-outs,drug addicts,drunkard blinded by evil desires, I find so much of motivation and encouragement whenever i read all these awsome,cahllenging quotes. Thank you so much,keep up and remember life is changed by every quote very time you write up

  38. Thank you for developing this list of quotes geared toward youth. I am always in search of finding ways to inspire and motivate those I teach.

  39. Beautiful quotes! Very inspiring.

  40. We have the power to move the unmoveable

  41. Youth are the root of the world and the seed of the womb

  42. Valerie Njuguna

    i am Valerie Njuguna from Kenya and i need to be mentored on being a leader who can empower the kenyan youth

    1. Hey Valerie, thanks for writing! Hope you’ve seen my page on youth empowerment at https://freechild.org/youth-empowerment/

      Let me know what else I can share!

      1. Great job, doing marvellous. Keep in ouch.

    2. Eric Martinez Danile

      Well My name is Eric Martinez and I am only a seventh grader but with this covid i have learned some things one of them is to empower the weak

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