Free children are not easily influenced; the absence of fear accounts for this phenomenon. Indeed, the absence of fear is the finest thing that can happen to a child. — A.S. Neill
The Freechild Project was designed to give YOU the tools and examples you need to make a difference. This section of our website is The Freechild Project Youth Handbook, and its for YOU.
There are five things this online Handbook wants to do:
INSPIRE — Light the fire in your soul and passion in your heart!!!
SHARE KNOWLEDGE — What do you know? What do you wanna know?
BUILD SKILLS — What can you do? What do you wanna do?
PLAN ACTION – Take real action on purpose with real goals.
LEARN STUFF – We want you to look at what you’ve done and learn from it.
As you use our online Handbook, keep in mind this is supposed to help you change the world. If it doesn’t work, tell us! If you want to thank us, do that. If you’re inspired, share it with your friends!
Youth Summits are opportunities for young people to become engaged in positive, powerful and passionate action to change the world. They create short, safe time and space where youth and their adult allies can learn and grow, share youth voice, and become engaged in what matters most to them. Also called Youth Conferences, Youth Summits should increase the inspiration, education, ability and impact of empowerment-oriented action through youth/adult partnerships.
The Basics of Youth Summits
Youth Summits should…
Assess youth needs from the perspectives of youth
Focus on identifying practical, tangible action with immediate, identifiable outcomes that are visible to youth
Create safe and healthy networking opportunities for youth and adult allies
Provide opportunities for youth and adult allies to commit to doing something and taking action afterwards
Create opportunities for youth and adult allies to lead and follow throughout, including developing skills in communication, teamwork, problem-solving and other lifelong areas
Address adultism directly and deliberately bridge gaps between age and cultural gaps
Benefits of Youth Summits
During and after Youth Summits, young people should…
Get the chance to meet other youth and adult allies in a specific community or interested in a specific issue area
Add youth voice to issues affecting entire communities or organizations or fields
Become active in practical, visible action that can benefit them today and in the future
Build their knowledge, skills and abilities to make their own ideas and the concerns of their families and communities heard
Tips for Planning Youth Summits
Develop clear big picture objectives for the Youth Summit
Identify SMART goals for the Youth Summit that are Specific, Measureable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-Sensitive
This is a group project – delegate as much responsibility as possible to create youth ownership and adult investment
Develop a clear decision-making process
Estimate how much planning time is needed, then double it.
Obligate all partner organizations to commit staff time and name which staff in their organization will become involved
Hold an orientation for all youth planners to help them understand what kind of commitment is necessary to participate in the Youth Summit
Help everyone involved, youth and adult allies, understand the Youth Summit requires hard-working volunteers who can be held individually accountability for their roles
Placing youth voice at the center of social change, Youth Forums can provide an engaging, empowering way to develop consensus, discuss issues and build community among youth in a community. As a structured, purposeful event, Youth Forums are meant to give youth an opportunity to express their ideas, opinions, and needs to adults or other youth. Youth Forums can be youth-led or adult-led; because the purpose of Youth Forums is to engage youth voice, young people should be prepared to share it. Rather than all talking, multiple engagement styles should be used. Youth don’t need permission to share youth voice or change the world—Youth Forums just make it easier for them to do both.
Before you launch a Youth Forum, there are many roles to understand.
What is your objective for hasting a Youth Forum?
What resources is your organization willing to commit to your Youth Forum, including staff, financial resources and expertise?
What other organizations are willing or necessary to co-host this Youth Forum?
What will the follow-up to the Youth Forum be? How will youth continue to be engaged?
How will youth be involved in planning and facilitating the Youth Forum?
What experience does your organization have facilitating Youth Forums?
Do you currently work with youth? Will you need to recruit youth to co-lead the Youth Forum?
What are the roles of adults in planning and facilitating the Youth Forum?
When will adults speak up and when will they listen?
Who decides the topics and breadth of the Youth Forum conversations?
What committees are needed to implement the Youth Forum?
Who will direct whom in accomplishing the various activities?
Where is the central location for your meetings and work?
How and how often will committees communicate?
What age group do you want to attend?
If you want mixed ages to attend…
How will you ensure the majority of attendees are youth?
How will you ensure youth are heard foremost at your Youth Forum?
How will you ensure adults will not sit on the outside and look in, creating uncomfortable fishbowls?
How many people do you want to attend? Number of youth? Adults?
How will you recruit and support diverse youth attendance? Where will these youth come from, including geographic areas, different races and gender identities, socio-economic levels, educational attainment and varying leadership tendencies?
Who will develop the agenda?
What will the length of the Youth Forum be?
What is the format for the learning opportunities at the Youth Forum?
What role will adults play at the Youth Forum? How will they differ from the roles of youth?
Will there be speakers at the Youth Forum? Who?
Will there be facilitators? Who? Where will they come from?
A Youth Action Council is a group of young people who develop a group approach using their individual abilities in order to solve serious social issues. In Youth Action Councils, young people develop, implement and evaluate actions through youth/adult partnerships. Youth Action Councils can be hosted by nonprofits, local/state/federal government agencies, school districts, community groups, international NGOs, and other organizations. Member ages, terms, numbers, issues and actions vary according to organizational priorities, youth voice and other factors. Youth Action Councils are the activity that changed everything for youth engagement. Before Youth Action Councils, organizations didn’t imagine what youth could do to change the world; after they started to exist, organizations only wanted to dream bigger.
Ways Youth are Changing the World through Youth Action Councils
Youth as Trainers ― Working together with their communities, Youth Action Councils are teaching adults, other youth, and young children about issues that matter to them. Some of these topics, including sex ed, environmentalism, and racism are at the core of major struggles today, while others are emerging issues.
Youth Grantmaking ― Young people are partnering with foundations and philanthropic organizations, as well as leading their own efforts, to raise funds and support causes that matter to them. This is happening through Youth Action Councils at the community level, nationally, and internationally.
Youth as Policy-Makers ― Youth Action Councils are active on the federal, state or provincial levels, and local levels around the world, making policy, informing elected and appointed officials, and evaluating decision-making that affects rules, guidelines, laws and regulations.
Tools Youth Need to Change the World through Youth Action Councils
Motivation ― After years of being routinely disconnected from real activities that change the world, it can be challenging for youth to want to join Youth Action Councils, and when they do join them, it can be hard to feel inspired. Motivation can come through storytelling, action research, and other opportunities.
Training ― Simply being appointed, selected or choosing to be on a Youth Action Council does not make a youth capable of being successful. Careful self- and group assessments should be conducted to learn what skills are present in the group, and what needs introduced and developed.
Opportunities ― When an organization creates a Youth Action Council, it becomes essential to provide real, practical and obvious opportunities for that group to change the world. Developing SMART goals, identifying useful tools and other resources, and having Youth Advisory Councils conduct meaningful evaluations and reflect on their work midcourse and at the end of their projects is essential.
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.