by Na’Quel Walker
As the Program Coordinator for YDEKC, what has made planning Generating a Generation of Change, our third event in the Thriving Leaders series, so special has been working with our Youth Design Team! When it was time to start thinking about ideas for this Thriving Youth event, we brought it to our Program Committee, and across the board, members wanted youth to be involved and have ownership in driving the direction of this event. I appreciated the feedback and couldn’t agree more.
All the incredibly important work that our sector does is so that young people can thrive. At the same time, it’s very easy for us adults who have experience working with youth to believe that it is enough for us to make decisions about what they need without consulting them or inviting them into the decision-making process. Even though we were once young people, we become adults and get into our professional roles and cultures that are often rooted in attitudes and beliefs that the adult, the teacher, or the mentor ultimately knows what’s best.
As many of you already know, our work at YDEKC is focused mostly on adults and how to support those who work with youth so that they can thrive and, in turn, the youth they serve can thrive. Planning this event has prompted internal conversations for our own staff team about how we, as an organization that doesn’t work directly with youth, can still incorporate youth voices into our work. After conversations with our program committee and staff team, we immediately started outreach for a youth design team, and seven amazing young people joined me in designing this event.
Working with the Youth Design Team has been another amazing reminder that young people are and should be considered experts on what they need. It’s important to give young people the space to freely share their thoughts about what they need and what they want. Having been in many conversations about what young people need, especially during these challenging times, it was refreshing to hear from young people directly. Mental health and navigating the ongoing state of shock and sadness came up multiple times from young people on the Youth Design Team. They also felt passionate about giving input and sharing their interests to influence programming and supports for youth and have leadership opportunities to create and make changes with adults.
I really appreciated the youth design team’s leadership on the kinds of workshops they wanted to host for this event. They also wanted this to be an event where youth and adults over the age of fourteen could come together for shared learning. We are so excited for event attendees to hear directly from young people and adults working to share power with youth and incorporating their voices in the work that they do.
We are looking forward to this opportunity for youth and adults to learn strategies and resources to navigate feelings of being overwhelmed as well as how to share power with youth and authentically incorporate youth voice in the youth development sector. We hope you’ll attend – and invite your colleagues and teen or young adult participants to join you!
Register for Generating a Generation of Change today!
Questions? Please contact Na’Quel Walker at email@example.com