Youth Engagement in Culture

Culture can seem like a hard thing to understand. We know that it includes the arts, like music and painting and sculpture. We know it includes our appearances, including whether we’re gender conforming, which clothes we have on, how we style our hair. Culture can be the songs, stories, beliefs, attitudes and abilities we share with others. It can mean a lot more, too.

Youth engagement happens in a lot of different ways, too. Consciously, connectedly and deliberately, young people around the world are organizing themselves, younger and older people to make a difference in so many different ways.

Cultural engagement connects youth to longer traditions that are deeply seeded in society. By tapping into these rich veins of connectedness, children and youth can build culture and change the world at the same time.

It’s about time we look for opportunities to do this work intentionally. Only when understand the power of culture can we truly make a difference.

Ways Youth Engagement in Culture Happens

Here are some examples of youth action in culture.

Hip Hop—Embracing modern hip hop culture includes the history, like grafitti, rap, dance and poetry, as well as the future of hip hop. Crossing boundaries, defying expectations and embracing diversity is the basis of youth engagement in hip hop. It means so much more!

Media Making—Whether making social media videos, websites, newspapers, or other forms of media, youth engagement can be empowering, educating, and enlightening for young people and adults.

The Arts—Without boundaries or expectations, youth engagement in the arts is a powerful avenue for culture. As the makers, performers, docents, mediators, and advocates for the Arts, young people are engaged in powerful, positive ways right now.

Needs for Youth Engagement in Culture

Opportunities—Creating meaningful ways, places, times and outcomes for engaging in culture is one of the needs for youth engagement. Young people explore, discover, create, transform and critique culture when they are engaged in it, and by doing that they expand and grow culture today and in the future.

Education—Young people can learn about culture. This should be hands-on, historically just, and empowering learning that engages youth in powerful opportunities to make, share and advocate for culture.

Funding—Low income youth engagement requires sustained and substantial funding for programs, activities, and the youth who are leading them.

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