Freechild Project youth at a summer camp in Seattle

Community Youth Development 

Young people do not exist in a bubble or a vacuum. Instead, they are members of the communities, families and societies they grow up in, whether or not that is recognized by adults. One strategy for youth to change the world acknowledges this connection. Community youth development weaves the growth of young people as they naturally desire to create change in their surrounding environments into the development of their communities. Actively partnering youth and adults to create new opportunities, youth serve their communities while developing their own skills, knowledge and abilities.

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

 

Ways Youth can Change the World through Community Youth Development

Youth-Led Classes — Young people of all ages can teach their peers, younger people and adults how community development works, what community is, where communities exist, and what they can do to create change in their communities. Through this approach, young teachers and facilitators move the levers of social change and can defeat adultism, too.

Service Learning Service learning deliberately immeshes classroom learning goals into serious community action that meets real needs. Young people can change the world this way by taking ownership of their projects, cultivating positive results and encouraging community-building throughout.

Community Governance — When youth action councils, youth policy-makers, and government committees and commissions engage youth as partners, young people can influence, drive, lead and assess community development.

 

Things Youth Need to Change the World through Community Youth Development

Education — Community youth development isn’t a naturally occurring phenomenon that automatically progresses young people in communities, villages, towns, cities and regions towards success. Instead, its an academic field of study, a research body, and a deliberate body of work assumed by governments, nonprofits and others. In order to become fully engaged partners, young people should learn as many aspects of that as possible.

Opportunities — Children and youth need practical, applicable and holistic opportunities to participate in community youth development. As the leaders, drivers and motivators of this action, practical opportunities to see real results should occur, along with meaningful opportunities to learn and grow, too.

Funding — While funding is essential for many actions with young people, community youth development is especially dependent on systemic measures to create, grow, sustain and enhance activities and opportunities. Foundations, government agencies and other donors must support community youth development with real investments.

 

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Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support community youth development in your community or organization, contact us.

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