Demanding Youth Participation

A couple weeks ago one of BEAM’s partners, Begeisterhaus, came all the way from Germany to host an interactive workshop with Palo Alto BEAM students. The workshop was centered on defining what “youth participation” looked like and learning how to promote young voices within our communities. Students had the chance to discuss what it meant to have their voices heard and had a great time engaging in thought-provoking activities.

The idea of “youth participation” is that students have to actively participate in shaping their communities. During the workshop, one of the instructors brought up the point that incorporating youth voices is important not just because young people are part of the community, but because they are the community’s future. In other words, simply including the voices of teens and young adults is not enough- they must be valued.

This mindset of prioritizing young voices is often overlooked. Too often, communities include youth in making decisions for the sake of including youth rather than because they truly value young voices- even when the decisions directly impact them. It is important that teens are given a platform to voice their opinions and that teens to demand that their voices be heard.

Young people should not be ignored because they are young, but valued for the potential they hold.

-Hanna Suh, CMO

James Chang-Davidson