Discover a grim reality facing all children and youth today called adultism.
Do you feel like society treats young people poorly?
Does youth empowerment appeal to you?
In Facing Adultism, renowned educator Adam Fletcher talks straight about discrimination against young people, and pulls no punches as he lays out the realities of adultism today.
Originally published as Ending Discrimination Against Young People, in this book Fletcher lays out the details of adultism in all of its forms. Showing how adultism affects everyone, he shows the way for anyone who wants to defeat discrimination against young people. In these pages, you’ll learn what adultism is; where adultism happens; and how YOU can make a difference.
It can be rough out there for children and youth, and the ways we’re young shape our whole lives. You don’t have to be blind about adultism anymore, as this book shines the light like no other.
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 Youth + Social Change Happens Through Youth-Led Activism
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.
Tools for Youth + Social Change through 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.
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.
Dozens of decisions are made about the lives of young people everyday. Families, schools, youth programs, city councils, foundations, government agencies, employers, lawmakers… the list is virtually endless. There is an equally endless list of reasons why children and youth need to be meaningfully involved in activities that affect them personally and their communities as a whole. Youth involvement provides opportunities for young people to participate in the activities, projects, programs, organizations, strategies and initiatives throughout society.
“It starts innocently. Casually. You turn up at the annual spring fair full of beans, help with the raffle tickets (because the pretty red-haired music teacher asks you to) and win a bottle of whiskey (all school raffles are fixed), and, before you know where you are, you’re turning up at the weekly school council meetings, organizing concerts, discussing plans for a new music department, donating funds for the rejuvenation of the water fountains—you’re implicated in the school, you’re involved in it. Sooner or later you stop dropping your children at the school gates. You start following them in.” ― Zadie Smith
Ways Youth are Changing the World through Youth Involvement
Youth as Decision-Makers— Youth involvement in personal decision-making is an essential skill all young people should learn about and hone throughout their lives. Youth involvement in organizational decision-making and community decision-making is equally important.
Youth/Adult Partnerships— Becoming active, engaged and substantive partners with adults can empower and engage young people like few other activities. Youth/adult partnerships are intentional, responsive and appropriate in every setting.
Youth Mainstreaming— Taking youth involvement to the next level means setting higher expectations, securing deeper commitments and establishing new ground for transformation. This can happen through youth mainstreaming.
Tools Youth Need to Change the World through Youth Involvement
Education— Teaching young people about the structures, activities and actions that make youth involvement effective is important; however, facilitating their understanding about the assumptions, attitudes, beliefs and opinions behind youth involvement matters more.
Opportunities— Young people need authentic, substantive and meaningful opportunities to become involved throughout their lives, communities and the world. Creating these opportunities isn’t rocket science, but isn’t completely obvious, either.
Technology — Youth involvement can be established, promoted, substantiated and transformative through technology. Social media, the Internet, texting and other devices can empower young people to become involved and push for more.
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth involvement in your community or organization, contact us.
Youth activism expert Yve Susskind taught Freechild that youth participation was something young people can do on their own. Adults can involveyouth, they can engageyouth, but they cannot participate youth. Youth participation can happen through sports, schools, faith communities, and throughout 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.
Ways Youth Can Change the World through Youth Participation
Youth as Recruiters— Young people can be the greatest peer advocates and community builders. Choosing activities and issues they are passionate about gives children and youth immediate investment in a program; allowing them to connect with people they want on board gives them the opportunities they need to influence people. Youth participation in recruiting can lead to the greatest outcomes for every project or program.
Social Media— Using technology they are comfortable with allows children and youth to assume influence, motivate others and propel social movements forward. Social media in all its forms answers this call, giving young people a doorway into participating in vast global conversations, and opening doorways to action offline, too.
Youth Authors— Young people can participate in social change through writing. Whether they are developing ebooks for young audiences online, writing articles in the local newspaper, or using texts to blast out messages to their friends and families, young authors can participate in social change in active, meaningful ways.
Things Youth Need to Change the World through Youth Participation
Opportunities— Often denied access to become meaningful participants in their own lives, children and youth need opportunities to participate. Whether happening at home, in nonprofits or local government, through school or in national organizations, youth participation can require door openings.
Inspiration— The inspiration to become active in their own lives escapes many young people who have been historically denied that right. Inspiring these children and youth can lead to substantive, impacting youth participation throughout communities.
Education— Once youth participation happens, its important to introduce and expand the knowledge, power and abilities of young people. Providing skill-building training and facilitating knowledge-sharing activities are key to improving youth participation.
Community Club Toolkit– Designed for sports clubs, community groups, youth centres or anyone trying to organise community events, sports activities or structured programs for informal groups and young people. A free resource with lots of ‘how to’ hints and useful templates to save your club time when: running meetings; helping club volunteers and members; engaging youth in decision making; membership (succession) planning; and running the day to day jobs within a community committee.
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth participation in your community or organization, contact us.
As young people build their knowledge, skills and abilities to change the world, they should have positive, purposeful opportunities to develop and expand their commitment to positive social change. Youth-led programs are opportunities created by individuals and organizations where youth lead planning, decision-making, facilitation, reflection and evaluation on issues that matter to them, using actions they want to use. Through youth/adult partnerships, adults can act in supportive, engaging ways. However, youth always maintain the lead, direction and authority.
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
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth engagement in youth-led programming in your community or organization, contact us.
Taking action, making change, experiencing new adventures… these are awesome reasons to get out and do something. But the richness of the experience and the learning from the experience, these are equally important if we are going to transform society through action.
Reflection is important for youth changing the world and their adult allies since it helps build self-awareness, strengthen personal and team growth, and improves action in the future. There are many different ways that people experience and learn from the same situations.
Different Ways Youth Learn
Keep in mind these different ways that youth learn.
Linguistic Learners – Like to read, write and tell stories
Interpersonal Learners – Like to have lots of friends, join and talk in groups
Intra-personal Learners – Like to work alone and pursue own interests
Spatial Learners – Like to draw, create, daydream and see pictures
Musical Learners – Like to sing, hum tunes, listen and respond to music
Bodily/ Kinesthetic Learners – Like to move, touch, talk and use body language
Logical/ Mathematic Learners – Like to do experiments, figure things out, asks questions and look for patterns and relationship
Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
― Søren Kierkegaard
The following are a list of reflection activities that are relatively easy-to-use, with few materials needed.
1. Emotional Go-Around
Participants are asked to show with a word, their body, or a facial expression how they feel right at the moment. Let people show their reaction, one at a time, and then have participants explain their reaction. This activity can give the facilitator a sense of the group mood and gives the participants a chance to express how they feel at that moment.
2. Service Skits
Split the students into groups of three or four and ask each group to portray their service experience through a skit. Give each group 10 minutes to plan what they will do and up to five minutes to share their skit with the rest of the group. After each group’s presentation, have the whole group process reactions, give suggestions for effective future projects, and give positive feedback to the actor/actresses. This activity could take 30 minutes to an hour to complete.
Take your students on an imaginary tour of their service experience. Ask participants to find a comfortable position (lay on the floor, rest your head on the table, lounge in a chair) and close eyes. Play relaxing music at a low volume. Ask participants to become aware of their breathing, ask them to leave their present thoughts and clear their minds. Once the participants appear to have relaxed, ask them to begin remembering their service experience. To assist them in remembering their experience mention common events, allow participants to remember how they felt before they did their experience, what their expectations were, what happened in their preparation, how they felt during their service experience. To stimulate their thinking you might mention some of what you remembered. Slowly bring them back to the present. Ask them to become aware of their surroundings, again concentrating on their breathing, and open their eyes when they are ready. Ensure that a quiet tone is maintained. Continue to play music, and ask participants to share their recollections with another person and finally have people make comments to the whole group.
4. Group Banners
Using a large pieces of banner paper and markers, ask students to get into pairs and depict their experiences using a combination of words and pictures. Give them about 10-15 minutes. When completed ask each pair to share their banner with the whole group. Use their banners as a jumping off point for processing the experience.
5. All Tied Up
Have the group stand in a circle. Holding the end of a ball of string, hand the ball off to a participant. Ask them to reflect on a particular question (e.g. what was something new you learned today?). Once they have answered the question ask them to hold onto their piece of the string and to pass the ball onto someone else. Continue the process until everyone has reflected on the question, and has a section of string in their hands. When completed, you should have something that looks like a web. When they are all done talking, make some points about the interconnectedness of people, how they are all part of the solution, for if one person had not contributed to their service projects the outcome would’ve been different, etc.
6. Service Journals
Ask students to keep a journal of their conference experience through regular (after each activity) entries. Provide framework for the journals (e.g. who will read it, what should they write about, how it will be used). Variations on the Activity Journal include team journaling, and circle journals. You can also provide particular questions to respond to, and use hot topics from activities to reflect on. You may ask participants to reflect on conference topics, including quotations and readings from authors, music groups, etcetera.
7. Time Capsule
As students are being introduced to your conference, have them put memorabilia and initial attitudes related to Peace Jam and their school’s projects on paper to start the time capsule. This could include a short project description, an agenda for your conference, or anything else relevant to what’s going on. Have the students write down how they are feeling at the start of the weekend, how they feel at different points of their school’s projects (e.g. what they expected at the beginning of the year, how they felt about your topic or conference before this weekend, what they feel/felt (before, during or after) their project as a whole. Put everything into a “capsule” that will be opened and read aloud and discussed (perhaps anonymously) at the end of the your conference.
8. Stream of Consciousness
After lying down, relaxing and allowing their minds to wander, encourage students to begin free word association around their service experience. Guide participants through the process by offering refocusing words, but allow them to say what comes to their minds, without censor or restriction.
9. Collage of Words
Using a large sheet of paper, have students write words that described their experience. Provide plenty of creative material (e.g. markers, crayons, colored pencils) and a large sheet of paper on a smooth surface. Give students twenty minutes, and have them explain their work when they’re finished. Explain how without everyone’s contributions, the work wouldn’t be as rich and varied as it is.
10. Service Interviews
Encourage students to see their projects through the public’s view by conducting media-style interviews with one another. Remember to cover all the bases: who, what, when, where, why and how. Or go Oprah and ask the hard-hitting questions!
11. Rap and Rhyme Responses
Divide the group into small teams, and give students 10 minutes to write a rap or rhyme about their service experience. The teams must incorporate all of their members into the production.
12. Show and Tell
Individually or in pairs, have students describe items they’ve collected or used throughout the activity, including their reactions and emotions regarding the item or the activity it was used in.
13. Human Sculpture
In a large open space, divide your group into two halves. Each half creates a sculpture around a word or phrase (e.g. peace, service-learning) with few props. Then each group displays its ‘art’ for the other group. The watching group can interpret the sculpture, without disruption, for two minutes. When they’re finished, the sculpture group can explain its work.
14. Group Poem Writing
Like a circle journal, this will bring your group together in a reflection on their service. Circulate a piece of paper around your group with the title across the top “For Love of Service”, encouraging each student to write a line in response to the previous until everyone has written. When finished, have a volunteer read the work to the entire group, and then discuss it.
15. Questions Left Unanswered
In pairs, ask students to write down any question they feel is unanswered from the activity you just completed. Encourage participants to ask anything, and then report their questions to the large group. Refrain discussion until all the questions are read, but then allow for an open exchange between students.
16. Imagining the Future
Ask students to imagine that the year is 2020, and the participants in the group have rejoined for a reunion. As a group, reflect on all of the changes that have happened because of the service you’ve completed, and the difference that work has made on your life
17. Graffiti Museum
Glue a wide variety of magazine pictures on construction paper, and post them down a hallway wall. Have participants look through all of the pictures, and chose one that represents their impression of the previous event (e.g. an activity, the day, or the whole weekend). Gathering in a circle, have students quietly circulate the pictures, and write why they do or don’t relate with the picture.
Sharing and Celebrating
Reflection should never just finish and be done, forever and ever. Instead, it should be an ongoing process that we encourage others and ourselves to engage in. All of these different reflection activities can be used across age groups, settings, purposes and outcomes. What would you add to the list? Share your ideas in the comments!
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth engagement in reflection in your community or organization, contact us.
Art, social change, and young people have always walked hand-in-hand. Engaging youth in the Arts can promote positive, powerful social change in countless art forms, including dance, music, graffiti art, and more. Young people can change the world in a lot of ways through the Arts.
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
Ways Youth can Change the World focusing on the Arts
Get Active — When young people interact with art in sustained ways that acknowledge its social impact and meaning, they are critically engaging with art. Whether happening in theaters, on screens, in galleries, at school, on the streets, online, or anywhere else, young people can change the world through critical engagement with the Arts.
Make Art — Studying, practicing, performing, creating, deconstructing, obliterating and recreating art is a skill and ability all young people are endowed with from the youngest of ages, and all people are capable of throughout their entire lives. Engaging youth as artists can happen in countless ways for countless purposes, and as long as they are positive, powerful and purposeful, youth can change the world.
Do Things With Adults — Working together to co-create artistic works can allow young people and adults to work across age barriers and divisions to create unity, community and empowerment for everyone involved. Youth/adult partnerships can empower everyone to make and share what’s in their hearts and on their minds, especially when they’re focused on the Arts.
Things Needed for Youth to Change the World through the Arts
Opportunities — Young people need many opportunities to interact with art in a lot of different ways throughout their lives. Schools shouldn’t be seen as the only source of art in the lives of young people; television, the Internet, cell phones, stores, ally walls and public art all provide opportunities. Children and youth should have different people around them when they interact with art, too, including their families, educators, other young people, strangers, different social classes, different educational levels, and all types of diversities.
Education —As children and youth, young people can learn how to create art, how to critique art, how to observe art, and how to engage with art. They can also teach others how to do the same, interacting with art in yet another way. Creating art is a way to learn, and providing the tools, spaces, educators and activities for young people can change the world.
Inspiration — Feeling the drive and motivation can lead to the courage and inner-strength needed to create and share art. Sharing stories, ideas and other inspirations with young people can drive children and youth to change the world through the Arts.
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth engagement in the arts in your community or organization, contact us.
Hip hop is a global cultural communication style including the pillars of music, art and dance. Born in urban American environments, the arts of DJing, MCing, graffiti, breakdancing, slam poetry, beatbox and beatmaking have become worldwide ways young people and adults use to express their thoughts, feelings, ideas, values, knowledge and wisdom in urban, rural, suburban and other environments. Today, youth and hip hop are tied up together around the world as an avenue for social change that can build power, ability and inspiration. According to Save the Kids, a Buffalo New York youth hip hop activism program, youth who are engaged in hip hop activism take four tactics:
Reclaiming place through breakdancing
Expressing themselves through graffiti
Making noise and beats with DJing
Speaking out through Emceeing.
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 in Get By
Youth as Artists — Creating and sharing hip hop culture focused on changing the world is a powerful way young people can make a difference. Organizing other youth through hip hop, using hip hop to share powerful messages and building the hip hop movement are all important actions for youth as artists.
Youth as Teachers — Young people can learn the skills needed to be effective teachers, facilitators and leaders who use hip hop to educate people, and to educate people about hip hop. Engaging youth as teachers can allow communities of learners to flourish. As a culture, hip hop can allow learners to become more engaged in more ways that mean more to them; as a topic, hip hop can be hyper-relevant and empowering to study.
Community Organizing — Hip hop youth activism is an empowering approach to advocacy, education and empowerment. Young people can use the elements of hip hop to advocate for the issues that matter most to them and their communities while bridging generations and cultures. This approach can energize and activate other people to become organizers, too.
Music Making— The act of creating conscious hip hop can be empowering, engaging and enlightening to children and youth as well as adults. Hip hop music can teach people about the politics that affect them, the cultures they are part of and the other elements of society they live in, and engaging young people in music making can be a powerful way to encourage that to happen.
Things Youth Need to Change the World through Hip Hop
Opportunities — One of the most powerful parts of hip hop is that young people can engage in its many elements without seeking permission from adults. However, when adults are allies with youth, they can foster hip hop throughout communities. More than simply playing a song, hip hop can be a spine for teaching, empowering, engaging and immersing children and youth in the realities of society. Nonprofits, schools, families and communities can all create avenues for that to happen.
Technology— Hip hop can be hold an organic, natural basis that centers on poetry, art, dance and emotion. It can also be moved along through tech-driven, synthetic ways that infuse electronic beats, voice modification and computerized instrumentals into all aspects of the culture. Providing access to technology can allow young people to choose whether they are organic or synthetic, or some mix of both. Tech can also allow children and youth to share hip hop culture globally, too.
Exposure— Hip hop is worldwide today. People speaking every language in almost every nation attach to some part of hip hop, creating, consuming and promoting social change at every turn. Exposure to diverse hip hop can engage young people in transnational, globalized culture without ever leaving their community, allowing them to infuse worldwide perspectives into places where people can’t or don’t ever leave.
H2Ed Center – An education initiative that advocates for education alteration and supports educators using Hip-Hop culture to reach youth by combining a creative mix of standard educational formats and Hip-Hop pedagogy.
Words, Beats and Life – Using Hip Hop as a vehicle for individual and community transformation through Hip Hop conferences, teach-ins and their Urban Arts Academy program.
Youth Speaks – Uses a critical, youth-centered pedagogical approach to offering programs in the areas of poetry, spoken word, youth development and civic engagement, with a commitment to young people’s self-empowerment and their intellectual and artistic development.
The Hip Hop Re:Education Project – A New York City-based community-based arts organization that uses Hip Hop culture to inspire and transform communities, engage marginalized and disaffected youth, and improve youth motivation and achievement.
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth engagement in Hip Hop in your community or organization, contact us.
Creating any kind of art, making any kind of art, or demonstrating any kind of art can allow youth as artists to change the world. Youth artists can entertain people, share social messages, create momentum and build support for changing the world, and otherwise transform their lives and the lives of others in countless ways.
Ways Youth + Social Change Happens through Art
Graffiti Art — Youth who create graffiti art can contribute to the social life of their communities and world. Their art can happen in small or large spaces, public or private places and in many forms, including spray painting and otherwise. The messages they share can be political, cultural, educational and otherwise.
Slam Poetry — Slam poetry pits young people in competition with others in a celebration of art, expression and community involvement. When they share social messages, political purposes and youth voice, youth slam poets can provide communities with powerful messages, authentic feedback and meaningful contributions.
Youth as Actors — Before becoming engaged on stage, youth actors may have to go through rigorous training and education to become actors. Finding their voices through theater can allow youth to express themselves in ways they’ve never known.
Tools for Youth + Social Change through Art
Education — Art cannot be trained. Instead, all forms of art can require intensive study, deep and critical feedback, and thoughtful reflection on one’s craft. Youth who learn to learn about the Arts can benefit their own skills and build the culture of their communities through education.
Apprenticeships — While traditional in many of the Arts, apprenticeships can take a new form when conducted as equitable youth/adult partnerships. Suddenly, youth can gain powerful new perspectives while informing adults about the value, position and meaning of their art.
Self-Publishing — Platforms that allow youth to create art on their own terms for their own ends can be empowering on many levels. Working with adults as partners can enrich this too, by providing everyone involved with substantive reflection and guidance on their arts.
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how Freechild Institute can support youth + social change in the Arts in your community or organization, contact us.
Producing, creating, manufacturing, designing, redesigning, recreating, identifying, specifying, and otherwise making anything is at the heart of the maker movement. Engaging youth as makers can mean empowering them with the resources to build what they want, what communities need, and what the world is calling for.
The best way to predict the future is to invent it. — Alan Kay
Ways for Social Change through Youth Making and Youth Producing
Youth as Builders— When youth are engaged as builders, they are creating, designing, assembling and manufacturing things the world needs. They may make devices, computer programs, instruments, mechanisms or other technology. These things can change the world when they answer unmet social needs.
Youth Construction— Constructing the physical spaces humans live in in an example of youth as makers. They may design and build parks, buildings, indoor spaces, outdoor places and other areas humans and nature occupy, literally changing the world and compelling people to live better, do better and be better through intention.
Youth Internships— Working with adults as learning interns can allow young people to build their knowledge and skills while contributing to maker works. Whether happening in the textile arts, metalwork, woodwork, or technology, maker internships should be focused on youth/adult partnerships that recognize young people teach and learn while adults learn and teach, and that in maker culture, it’s never an either/or situation.
Needs for Youth + Social Change through Youth Making and Youth Producing
Technology— Practical training and unique exposures to a range of applications and organizations can allow young people to use technology to in powerful, meaningful and substantive ways. Where 3-D printers can allow young people to design physical objects like prosthetic limbs and housing materials in real time, handheld devices can allow them to create apps and construct physical spaces on their own.
Maker Spaces— Maker spaces are places with people, tools and opportunities for youth to become makers. Through equipment, community, and education, young people can design, prototype and create things they might not be able create otherwise. Providing access is key to maker spaces, and young people’s engagement and empowerment can be a key to making them work for everyone.
Training— Training young people how to make things, whether through manufacturing, creation, or otherwise, can engage youth voice in exciting new ways. Building the skills and knowledge of young people is vital, and can compel young people to get engaged and change the world!
YoungMakers – Participants ages 8-18 and of varying backgrounds, interests, and skill levels, work together in small clubs throughout the season to design and make a youth-chosen, open-ended project, culminating in an opportunity to share and exhibit at a showcase event.
YouthBuild – In programs across the United States and across the globe, low-income young people learn construction skills to help build affordable housing and other community assets such as community centers and schools.
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how Freechild Institute can support youth+ social change through youth making and youth producing in your community or organization, contact us.