“Youth Voice is important because the involvement and change we are a part of represents our generation’s hopes and needs that will mold the future. Our incorporation helps to easily expand organizations with our knowledge of technology and modern ideas. As youth, we are strong and passionate; empowering us brings us all a step closer to solutions for the community.”
These inspiring words are from GUIDE’s 2015-2016 Youth Advisory Board President, Patricia Granda-Malaver. She is a true advocate for Youth Voice and is looking forward to a great year leading the Youth Advisory Board to create positive change in Gwinnett County.
While in school and at home, youth rarely have the chance to share their opinions and feedback about things going on around them. When organizations ask youth to have a voice, they learn that what youth say and do can truly make a difference! In order to provide authentic opportunities for Youth Voice, it’s important to understand what it is and why it’s vital to any youth-serving organization. Youth Voice is the knowledge, perspectives and experiences of young people. When organizations create projects for youth and utilize the ideas of young people, programs are much stronger and can more effectively reach the target population – youth!
For organizations to begin incorporating Youth Voice, it is imperative that youth have a safe place to share their thoughts, input and opinions. In addition, here are seven principles that GUIDE follows to integrate Youth Voice into programming:
- Honor, ask for and engage youth wisdom.
- Provide ample opportunities for young people and adults to share control and decision making on multiple levels.
- Understand that Youth Voice is a way of operating, part of an organizational culture and a philosophy that is more than just one “leadership program offering.”
- Go beyond “just listening” and build real action around Youth Voice.
- Identify opportunities for voice and choice within each daily activity, across sessions, throughout programs and organization-wide.
- Create space, commit resources and provide support for Youth Voice.
- Understand the positive outcomes of partnership for young people, adults, organizations and communities.
GUIDE puts the concept of Youth Voice into action with our Youth Advisory Board and other Youth Action Teams that we support in Gwinnett County. Each summer, these teams attend Georgia Teen Institute (GTI), a four-day leadership conference at Oxford College, where participants have the opportunity to plan a prevention project related to issues they see that need to be addressed in their community.
At GTI this summer, teams assessed substance abuse data for Gwinnett County and noticed that underage drinking continues to be a large problem. Based on their voice and feedback, all of the Gwinnett County Youth Action Teams are planning projects to address this issue, each in their own creative way. The teams will continue planning their projects using the Strategic Prevention Framework and will implement them during the upcoming school year to create positive community change aimed at reducing underage drinking.
Our Gwinnett Youth Action Teams include:
South Gwinnett Comets in Action
We invite you to visit our website to learn more about our Youth Advisory Board and to follow us on social media to see what our teams are doing throughout the year!