Poverty means having very little money, wealth or possessions. Poverty can also include having limited educational, political, social, cultural and physical power. The reality of youth and poverty is that many young people around the world face poverty, and other young people want to do something to help people facing poverty. Children and youth addressing their own poverty are actively changing the world; young people who are trying to help others experiencing poverty can change the world, too.
Poverty reduction is not only about meeting our basic needs, it’s also about participation, influence and power. — Hanna Hallin
Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings. — Nelson Mandela
Ways Youth are Changing the World through Challenging Poverty
Youth as Producers — Instead of waiting for other people to make things for them, young people can produce things for themselves, their families and their communities. Learning how to grow food, make healthy meals, build things, develop websites, sell online and other production can allow children and youth to defeat poverty. It can also change society’s perceptions.
Critical consumerism — Making intentional choices to support the end of poverty can mean shopping local, buying fair trade items, and bartering or trading others. Children and youth can do these things on a large scale, influencing local economies, their families and others by raising consciousness among their friends, younger people and adults.
Youth-Led Programming — When children and youth have opportunities to create and support themselves, their peers, young people, their families and their communities, they develop the abilities they need within them to challenge poverty. Youth-led programs can provide the positively enabling conditions young people need in order to act on their own behalf and for others. This can allow them to overcome poverty.
Tools for Change
Opportunities — Children and youth who grow up in poverty can often feel the burden of community depression and the oppression of social stigmas. Creating meaningful opportunities for them to engage with poverty in a critical light can be essential to engaging, empowering and compelling them towards helping themselves and others, too.
Technology — While technology of any kind is not an immediate fix for poverty, it can be a powerful tool. When young people have access to the Internet, they can find information they need in order to become critical consumers and education that can lift them out of poverty. They can also learn how their cultures, heritage and backgrounds can be empowering, and without running away from where they are at, they can learn to improve life for their communities.
Education — Few young people actually learn what economics are and how they are affected while they are young. Instead, they are treated as passive recipients of a large system they cannot challenge. Education about economics, from practical budgeting and getting paid to higher concepts about national economies and globalization, can help children and youth discover active, engaged and effective roles for themselves throughout society.
- A Short Guide to Youth Engagement in the Economy by Adam Fletcher
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 poverty in your community or organization, contact us.