What are Youth Services’ plans for the future?
- A Plan for Youth Opportunities
- Entire Plan pdf
- Listening Project pdf
- Lots-More-Positive-Attitude pdf
What does it take for our community to support youth to become healthy, empowered and valued 21-year-olds?
Youth Services recently engaged youth and adults* as partners in a planning process to ascertain what conditions our community needs to change in the next 3 to 5 years to ensure youth grow into healthy, valued and empowered adults. These meetings happened just after the organization completed a qualitative research study of adolescents living in difficult circumstances.
Both the research and the planning process identified similar priorities:
- Future Planning & Caring Adult Support and Guidance
- Employment and Relationships in Families and with School Personnel
- Places for Youth to Gather
- Employment, Places for Youth to Gather and Transportation
- Everyday Relationships
- Relationships with Law Enforcement, Families, Employers, School Personnel and Landlords
And, finally, all agreed on Housing for homeless and runaway youth or those housed in unsafe or unstable conditions.
* Adults represented 55 participating organizations that have joined with Youth Services to change these conditions.
Overarching themes for action
Establish venues that open dialogue between youth and adults.
This is a key step in the process that was raised in several of the meetings and in several different work groups. There were concerns among work group participants that youth would not participate in open dialogues, so creativity was encouraged in terms of recruiting youth to attend, designing the forums to be both youth and adult friendly, and facilitating the discussion. This was considered by some to be the most effective way to build relationships, combat the “bad kid” label and initiate a culture change between different groups in the community.
Create ways for youth to be together and access resources.
Youth voiced difficulties finding places to be together and “hang out,” but there are other needs related to spaces for youth to be in our community.
Places that might be envisioned and those that already exist must also be accessible to youth. There are a lot of opportunities below for partnership and collaboration with other groups already working on the issue or who might have a vested interest in the same initiatives.
Increase education and training for adults related to youth.
Adults need to be encouraged to shift their thinking both overtly and covertly.
Although there might be some explicit data that adult populations are unfamiliar with, there need to be more opportunities for youth and adult groups to work together and learn more about each other beyond statistics. All these ideas are suggestions for helping people get to know each other across cultural identifiers, often enlisting them in a common cause.
Create ways for youth to gain work experience and learn about career options.
A key finding from the Listening Project was that youth wanted a vision for their future. There are many ways they could learn about career options, many of which don’t involve traditional career education.
Make sure youth voices are present and heard in all community settings; ensure inclusion of youth as full partners in all decisions that affect them.
Certainly youth groups are not the only ones disenfranchised by certain modes of operation in our community. However, there are some key public structures where youth could easily be included as partners in sharing their perspectives on a broader range of issues, and having their votes count on decisions that impact them. Both youth and their adult partners need training, education and mentoring to ensure this new level of partnership.
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“In the school system, we see children who are constantly in transition because their families are continually on the move. I know one fifth grade girl, from a single parent family, who has moved twenty times since she was in first grade. When people need counseling or other kinds of support, I usually refer them to Youth Services because of the wide spectrum of services the agency offers.”
Green Street School
“Our goal is to teach these kids the skills necessary to live successfully on their own.”