Youth are everywhere! According to the United Nations, young people between the ages of 12 and 21 account for more than 25% of the world’s population today. http://www.prb.org/pdf13/youth-data-sheet-2013.pdf
In the United States, the Census reported in 2011 there are over 73 million people under 18 in the United States. 10 to 19 year olds make up more than 14% of the US population. http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2012/01/census-number-of-youthful-americans-shrinks/1 http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_12_1YR_S0101&prodType=table
Young people ages 10 to 19 make up 13% of Washington’s population.
There are more than 281 municipalities in Washington State, including incorporated towns and cities. Research conducted by the Washington State Legislative Youth Advisory Council has found that only 35 of those municipalities have Youth Councils.
Youth Councils have vast differences, and many different possibilities. Some of the differences depend on where they are located, who is on the Councils, and what the local municipality needs from them.
However, the missions of many Youth Councils aren’t generally informed by research-driven best practices, national trends or patterns, or other factually-based decisions. Instead, they are determined by well-intentioned adults who want to do the right thing, but are limited by their own imaginations, by their city or town leadership’s vision, or the way that everyday people see young people.
However, and luckily, we’re not limited to negative or challenging perceptions of youth. As one community organizer said, &quot;Our youth are not failing the system; the system is failing our youth. Ironically, the very youth who are being treated the worst are the young people who are going to lead us out of this nightmare.&quot; The way they’re going to do this? Youth Councils.
A youth council is a formal or informal body of young people that is driven by advocacy and decision-making. They address the absence of youth involvement in decision-making for any age of young people, with kids as young as 7 and young adults as old as 24 being involved in Youth Councils across Washington State.
There many different kinds of youth councils, including those sponsored by local governments, including towns, cities, and counties; state government agencies and legislatures; local nonprofit and community organizations; and national organizations.
Communities with Youth Councils in Washington Auburn Bellevue Camas Cheney Colville Des Moines Everett Federal Way Grandview Issaquah Kirkland Lacey Lakewood Liberty Lake Marysville Mercer Island Mill Creek Millwood Mukilteo Oak Harbor Puyallup Redmond Renton Sammamish Seattle Shoreline University Place
22 students Ages 14-18 All corners of Washington All walks of life. Two-year term. Meet up to four times per year in Olympia. Hold monthly conference calls to discuss projects and goals. Hold an annual Action Day to meet with legislators and testify on important youth-related bills. Advocate for youth-related bills. In 2013, lobbying efforts helped move three bills to be passed into law. Partner with youth groups and organizations.
Labor Workforce Development School Districts Neighborhood Associations Faith Communities Ethnic and Cultural Groups Performing Arts Orgs
“Youth should not only be trained to live in a democracy when they grow up; they should have the chance to live in one today.&quot; – Alfie Kohn
Thus the dream becomes not one man’s dream alone,But a community dream.Not my dream alone, but our dream.Not my world alone,But your world and my world,Belonging to all the hands who build. from “Freedom’s Plow” by Langston Hughes
Introduction to Youth Councils - The Freechild Project
Engaging Youth in Decision-Making
through Youth Councils
"Our youth are not failing the system; the
system is failing our youth. Ironically, the
very youth who are being treated the worst
are the young people who are going to lead
us out of this nightmare."
- Rachel Jackson
What is a Youth Council?
• Formal or Informal
• Driven by Advocacy and Decision-Making
• Focused on Youth Engagement
• Representative by Nature
• Addresses Absence of Youth Engagement
• May include ages 7 to 24