Reasons for Youth Engagement

We support youth engagement through purposeful, intentional reasons that empower youth to take action on the issues they care about most. Following are some reasons for youth to engage in the world in powerful, positive ways.

  • Youth Voice — Youth voice is any expression of any young person anywhere, at any time. This can include expressions that are verbal, written, visual, body language, or actions; expressions that are convenient and inconvenient for adults to listen to; and intentional as well as unintentional expressions. Youth Voice does not require adult approval or acceptance.
  • Popular Education — Engaging young people in education towards the struggle for a just, equitable and democratic society demands alternative approaches to learning and teaching. Communities must be secured and empowerment must be real. This can happen through popular education. This strategy fosters environments of co-learning and can support intergenerational partnerships in dynamic ways.
  • Youth Participation — The active attendance of young people in any mode throughout their lives or communities. Youth participation can happen through active decision-making, sports, schools, or faith communities. It can also happen in homes and among friends. Youth participation can be formal or informal; when its formal, youth may not choose to attend something, but they choose whether to participate. When its informal, youth choose to join in on something.
  • Adultism Awareness — Any action that challenges adult bias throughout society. Led by youth or adults, anti-adultism recognizes the societal addiction many people have to adults that leads to discrimination against children and youth.
  • Youth Involvement — Any deliberate effort that centers on young peoples’ ongoing attendance in personal, social, institutional, cultural, and other forms of structural action throughout society. Youth involvement is generally formal, often including specific roles, education, and outcomes.
  • Youth-Led Activism — Young people taking deliberate, strategic and powerful action to draw attention to issues that matter to them which benefit their communities are leading activism. Instantaneous or sustained, youth-led activism can change the world.
  • Youth Empowerment — The attitudinal, structural, and cultural process whereby young people gain the ability, authority, and agency to make decisions and implement change in their own lives and the lives of other people, including youth and adults.
  • Youth Leadership — The practice of young people exercising authority over themselves or others, both in informal and formal ways. There is youth leadership beyond the scope of what adults recognize, appreciate, or foster; there is also youth leadership which is guided by adults.
  • Youth/Adult Partnerships — When young people are fully equal with adults while they’re involved in a given activity. This is a 50/50 split of authority, obligation, and commitment. One of the realities of this is that there isn’t recognition for the specific developmental needs or representation opportunities for children and youth.
  • Youth Equity — The pro-active rebalancing of relationships between youth and adults to allow for appropriately empowered roles between youth and adults. It allows for a 40/60 split of authority, while everyone involved- young people and adults- are recognized for their impact in the activity, and each has ownership of the outcomes.
  • Youth Mainstreaming — A public policy strategy that acknowledges the roles youth can play and the issues affecting them across various sectors such as health, finance, economic development, housing, justice, foreign affairs, education, and agriculture.
  • Youth Infusion — The active, deep, and sustained integration of youth throughout an organization or community’s structure and culture.
  • Youth Organizing — An approach that trains young people in community organizing and advocacy, and assists them in employing these skills to alter power relations and create meaningful institutional change in their communities by employing activities such as political education and analysis, community research, campaign development, direct action and membership recruitment.
  • Service Learning — Uses meaningful service throughout the community to help youth achieve clearly stated learning goals.
  • Project-Based Learning — Infuses deliberately planned hands-on activities focused on teaching and learning to foster youth success.
  • Experiential Learning — The process of making meaning from direct experience, which may or may not be planned and does or does not have specific learning goals.
  • Community Youth Development — Combines the developmental instincts of young people as they naturally desire to create change in their surrounding environments by partnering youth and adults to create new opportunities for youth to serve their communities while developing their personal abilities.
  • Youth Social Entrepreneurship — Young people moving passion into action, creating positive action and leading children, youth and communities into changing the world in tangible ways are social entrepreneurs.
  • Activist Learning — Focused solely on social justice and youth empowerment, activist learning moves young people from being passive recipients of adult-driven societies towards becoming active creators of the world they want to live in.

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Freechild Youth Handbook: Get Engaged and Change the World by Adam Fletcher for the Freechild Institute
Freechild Youth Handbook: Get Engaged and Change the World