Youth empowerment is a way young people can experience the full abilities they are born with in order to live the lives they want to live in a world we all share. It is not a process, a product, or an outcome. Instead, youth empowerment comes from the individual attitudes, shared cultures, and everyday structures that children and youth share with adults throughout society. When youth empowerment happens, young people gain the ability, authority and agency they need to visualize, plan, implement, critique and reimagine the realities around them.
“Only through actions do words take power.” — The Freechild Project motto
Ways Youth are Changing the World through Youth Empowerment
Teaching — Young people are teaching adults, youth, and younger people about youth power, youth capacity, youth voice, youth wisdom and community interdependence. By doing this they are helping enable a generation of action and transformation.
Media Making — Developing apps, movies, websites, newspapers and other media is allowing young people to spread the word about their desire and ability to change the world.
Social Entrepreneurship — Working with adults as allies or taking action on their own, young people are creating nonprofits, businesses and other enterprises focused on sustainable changing the world. Their energy and enthusiasm is creating long-term, deep impacts that are transforming their own lives, the lives of their families and friends, and the world around them.
Tools Youth Need to Change the World through Youth Empowerment
Funding — Foundations, funds and investors can step up and support action led by young people becoming empowered, engaged and meaningful agents of change throughout their own lives and the lives of other people.
Education — Understanding, studying, examining, critically deconstructing and building their own learning about the world around them empowers children and youth to take meaningful, substantive action to make the world a better place. It also allows them to understand themselves as not mere actors in the world, but actually as the builders of knowledge.
Opportunities — Adult allies of young people need to create obvious, accessible and awesome opportunities for children and youth to understand their power, opportunities and abilities to make a difference in their own lives and in the world around them. These opportunities should be woven throughout their regular, daily and normal lives in order to increase the visibility and impact they have.
- Youth Equity
- Youth/Adult Partnerships
- Youth Mainstreaming
- “Radical Transparency with Children and Youth“
- Examining “Empowerment”: A How-To Guide for the Youth Development Professional by Angela J. Huebner for the Journal of Extension
- “The YES! Youth Empowerment Model Definition” by YES!
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth empowerment in your community or organization, contact us.
Special thanks to Peter Berg for his contributions to this page!