Monday, December 7, 2009

Whale sanctuary seeks applicants for advisory council

NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is seeking to fill eight primary seats and eight alternate seats on its advisory council, including a youth member. According to, this would make the HIHWNMS one of the first sanctuaries in the country to include a youth member on its advisory council.

The council advises HIHWNMS management on resource protection, research, education and outreach programs. The all-volunteer council is made up of 17 voting members and 15 non-voting members. Members represent a variety of local user groups, the general public, and state and federal governmental jurisdictions.

The youth seat is being added to help the sanctuary appeal to younger community members. It is a non-voting position.

The application deadline is January 31, 2010. For further information visit the sanctuary website.

Whale sanctuary seeks applicants for advisory council

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Youth Participation Digest for October 29, 2009

My posts have been somewhat infrequent recently, but youth participation does not stop! So rather than a post about a single event or opportunity, here's a digest of recent youth participation-related articles and posts I have come across.


Young Canadians interested in community development have an opportunity to receive up to $1,500 in funding to plan and carry out a community project. Grants are provided by the Society of Educational Visits and Exchanges Canada and the Department of Canadian Heritage. Projects must be youth-led and associated with a town/municipal council. The application deadline is Nov. 19.

Youth participation - growing up?
The Children's Services Network, a program of the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU), will hold a seminar on youth participation in London on December 12. The session will examine the extent to which existing youth participation programs and policies are effective, for both young people and local authorities. The session will conclude with a reception at "Youth participation - growing up?," a report written by the LGiU's youth advocate, will be released.


Rt. Honorable Speaker addresses the 121st IPU Assembly
Nepal's Speaker of the Legislative Parliament and its Chief Whip of the Nepali Congress addressed the 121st Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Geneva on October 22. The Chief Whip, Hon. Laxman Prasad Ghimire, told the Assembly, “Though youth participation in political and democratic process has increased in quantitative terms, they still lag behind in influencing the core decision making process of the national as well as the international polity.” Mr. Ghimire stressed that “only through acceptance of youth as a critical stakeholders and ensuring their meaningful participation in sustaining the democratic process can institutionalize democracy." Mr. Ghimire called for the formation of Youth Parliamentarians Caucuses in member Parliaments and a Caucus of Youth Parliamentarians in the IPU.

Nigeria: Vision 2020 - Integrating Youth Concerns Into Development Agenda

The Nigerian Ministry of Youth Development recently held a workshop in Lagos on youth mainstreaming for government youth development officers, teachers, journalists, representatives of civil society organizations and other stakeholders. Youth mainstreaming is the process of involving young people in the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of policies and programs that affect them. The aim of this workshop was to support integration of young people into national and economic development planning.

We're Building a Global Movement
This post from the It's Getting Hot In Here blog describes some recent successes of the international youth climate movement. One example is the recent establishment of YOUNGOs, or youth non-governmental organizations, as a recognized observer constituency within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This will facilitate communication between youth NGOs and the UN secretariat.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

UNESCO to encourage member states to include youth in National Commissions

Pierre Sané, Assistant Director General of UNESCO’s Social and Human Science Sector, announced on October 1 that the General Conference will try to introduce a resolution that will commit member states to opening up their National Commissions to youth participation. According to Marcio Barbosa, Deputy Director General of UNESCO,
"If it’s adopted, the resolution will mean that National Commissions have to reach out to youth organizations and integrate their representatives in the work of the Commissions."
Barbosa and Sané to push resolution on youth participation through General Conference

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

USAID supports Youth Mobilization Committees in Nepal

In 2006 the American international aid agency USAID began a program designed to support the transition to peace and democracy in Nepal. Among other strategies, the program supported the formation of Youth Mobilization Committees (YMCs) in villages in the Terai region where young people were most likely to join armed groups. These committees worked with their communities to select community service projects and engaged other youth in the projects.

Projects included reconstruction of community libraries and early childhood development centers and rehabilitation of roads, health posts and schools. Some 125,000 youth participated, including 4,000 as YMC members.

The popularity of the YMCs and their projects led to both financial and labor contributions from local governments and the community. According to USAID, the development of budgets by the YMCs ensured transparency and led to pressure for greater accountability in local government budgets. In some communities the YMCs obtained additional funding from the local government for larger projects. In one village, for example, the local government was so pleased with the YMC's work that it planned to continue funding local projects through the existing YMCs.

Mobilising Nepali Youth for Community Service

USAID/OTI Nepal Quarterly Report, January - March 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cameroon to establish national youth council

Elections will begin October 15 for a new Cameroon National Youth Council. Only members of organizations that have registered with the Ministry of Youth Affairs will be eligible to vote or stand for election. Candidates may run for election at the municipal, divisional, regional and national levels. Elections will run through the end of October.

Last January the government released the electoral code for the election of the Council's executive bureau. Concerns were raised at that time by youth organizations about the registration requirement and about a requirement that organizations intending to present candidates pay levies for the privilege of doing so. Fako Divisional Delegate of Youth Affairs Isaac Ikombe Mbua responded that the levies provide a way to discourage candidates who were not serious about standing for election. The fees run from FCFA 5,000 for an office at the local level to FCFA 50,000 for candidates running for President of the Executive Bureau.

The levies and registration requirement are a genuine concern as they will certainly limit the pool of candidates, and thus may lead to the election of a council that is not truly representative of the youth of Cameroon.

National Youth Council Set for Takeoff

Youth Counsellors Elections - Preparations Underway

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sri Lanka establishes National Children's Council to involve children in policy

In honor of Universal Children's Day 2009, Sri Lanka is establishing a National Children's Council to provide Sri Lankan children with a means to share their ideas and views on issues that concern children. Sarath Abeygunawardana, the government's Probation and Child Care Services Commissioner, promises that the council will have a significant impact on policymaking.

According to Abeygunawardana, what happens is adults taking all the decisions for children and making policies on behalf of them without consulting the children. Children's ideas should be given a space in all policies related to them. It is one of their rights. Children's Councils have already been set up at Divisional Secretariat division level and district level, he said.
Children in policy-making

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Australian Youth Advisory Board guides government's Internet safety policy

Five members of the Australian government's Youth Advisory Group met today at Parliament House in Canberra with the government's minister in charge of broadband communications to offer suggestions on how the government can support cyber safety. The YAG members also met with the Consultative Working Group on Cyber-Safety.

The broadband minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, noted that since May of this year nearly 8,000 posts have been made to the advisory group's online forum, y@g Online. The Youth Advisory Group includes some 300 members.

Some examples of the advice received from advisory group members:

“We need an anonymous online chat facility up for kids to talk about their problems with a professional.”

“Really promote the website so kids just know where to go.”

“Help us to understand the differences between different social networking sites and help us to understand how to use them safely.”

Young Australians advise Government on cyber-safety

Thursday, August 27, 2009

North Carolina allows voter pre-registration for 16-year-olds

North Carolina lawmakers recently passed a bipartisan bill that will allow 16 and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote (H 908). Young people will be able to register in school and at the motor vehicles department when applying for a driver's license. The bill also requires schools to provide voter registration information in students' 10th-grade civics courses, encourages school districts to promote voter registration, and it includes schools in the annual voter registration drives conducted by local election boards.

The bill was co-sponsored by, among others, the youngest Republican and the youngest Democrat in the General Assembly.

North Carolina Passes Key Youth Voting Reform

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Auckland youth pushing for representation in "supercity" governance

Members of the Auckland, Waitakere and North Shore youth councils and the Manukau and Rodney youth forums in Aukland, Australia have submitted a proposal to the local government for an Aukland City Youth Council to advise the government on matters relating to youth. Eight local councils will be merged to form one "supercity" council next year.

The youth groups are also asking that each of the local boards being proposed include youth, that the Aukland Council include a non-voting youth member, that youth consultation be required when the Council is deciding issues affecting youth, and that a youth transition agency be created to help the Council set up the Auckland Youth Council, local territorial youth councils and youth representation on local boards.

Youth want say on supercity

Thursday, August 13, 2009

International Youth Day

On the occasion of International Youth Day a number of politicians from around the world made statements about the importance of young people's participation in community leadership, politics and development. Stating one's support and actually providing that support are, of course two different things. Still, it's nice to hear (or read) politicians talking about youth participation.

Below is a sampling of news articles describing political leaders' statements on International Youth Day.

VP Reiterates Gov't Commitment to Youth Empowerment

'More youth participation needed in India's decision-making'

Youth key partner for sustainable development of world: NA Speaker
Nourishing of youth imperative to put country on path of progress: Chairman Senate
'Unutilised' youth hope for participation in decision-making

The United Nations
SUSTAINABILITY: Our Challenge. Our future.

And last but not least, testimony from an actual young person to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Joint Committee on Election Laws:

Ethiopia/United States
Honoring International Youth Day - An Ethiopian Youth Activist's Perspective

Nigerian youth coalition demands representation on electoral commission

A coalition of students and youth organizations in Nigeria has called on the House of Representatives to adopt a constitutional amendment allowing for youth representation on the board of the country's Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The group, calling itself the Northern Youth Coalition on Electoral Reform, is also seeking to lower the minimum age requirement for serving in the House and Senate to 25 and 30 years, respectively.

The coalition wants to INEC board to include at least two members between the ages of 18 and 35 and points to Uganda's National Youth Statute of 1993 and Participation Act of 1995 as models for legislation.

According to the Northern Youth Coalition,
"Democracy is about numbers. Youths constitute a larger percentage of our population and so cannot be neglected. We have power in our numbers, therefore our interest must be reflected on INEC board."
Northern coalition wants representation on INEC Board

Friday, August 7, 2009

Gambian youth advocate for youth participation

Participants in the Third International Youth Summer School on Peace, which took place 24 July to 1 August in Janjangbureh, Gambia, have released an impressive statement urging NGOs, national governments and communities in Africa to support speedy implementation of the African Youth Charter. The young authors commit to continued advocacy, collaboration with their governments and other stakeholders, and continued involvement in peace education.

The document touches on disarmament, development, the media, sexual trafficking, good governance, diversity, democracy, human rights and more.

Youth advocate and Lobby For Speedy Domestication / implementation of African youth charter

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Youth and internet policy in the EU

An organization called HUWY (which I think stands for "Hub Websites for Youth") is seeking to engage European youth in internet policymaking through a pilot project sponsored by the European Commission and based in the UK, Ireland, Estonia and Germany. HUWY provides resources through an EU hub, as well as national hubs and online space for young people to discuss important internet-related issues (e.g., cyber-bullying, file sharing, ID theft, etc.). The idea is that after discussing the issues in whatever ways young people are comfortable with, they will then bring their ideas back to the hubs, and those ideas will be shared by HUWY with national and EU policymakers.

Below is a diagram of the project:

For more information visit HUWY.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dear Senator...

This is not a news item, event, resource or opportunity, and I do not know who Maryam Uwais is but she makes an eloquent argument in favor of children's participation in public hearings and important policy decisions in a letter to Nigerian Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello. Ms. Uwais criticizes Sen. Obasanjo-Bellow for not allowing children to speak at a recent hearing held to discuss a tobacco control bill, offers the Senator an explanation of the difference between a public hearing and a judicial hearing, and argues that the Nigerian constitution, the Child Rights Act of 2003 and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child all support the right of children to participate in such hearings.
"It is...regrettable that it is one of the main pillars of democracy, the Nigerian Senate, which purposefully denied children the opportunity to fulfill their rights and responsibilities, as entrenched under our Constitution, our laws and the African Charter. Cultural and religious prejudices towards children, coupled with our insecurities as adults, conveyed by a 'know-all' arrogance that continues to insist that we can speak for children and young persons (without listening to them) in matters that directly concern them, have only served as stumbling blocks to the realization of progress and development in our society.
Go Maryam!

Maryam Uwais' letter, "Know-All Arrogance is Stumbling Block to Progress"

Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Nigerian Child's Rights Act 2003

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Monday, July 27, 2009

U.K. Youth Parliament summit wraps up

Hundreds of young people from across the country today wrapped up a 4-day summit, sponsored by the UK Youth Parliament (UKYP), at the University of Kent, in Canturbury. Summit participants and members of the Youth Parliament launched national campaigns on public transportation, university tuition and political education. Participants also discussed mental health issues, education, youth participation and crime, and heard from speakers including the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, and Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students. Participants also had the opportunity to ask questions and discuss important issues with other public officials.

The UKYP provides opportunities for 11-18-year-olds to use their voice in creative ways to bring about social change. The UKYP was launched at the House of Commons in July 1999, and held its first Sitting in February 2001 in London. There are currently over 500 elected MYPs (Members of Youth Parliament) and Deputy MYPs.

Kent hosts national UK Youth Parliament summit

Kenya's youth council bill

There is a bill in the Kenyan Parliament to establish a national youth council whose functions would include, among other things:
  • Registering youth groups and youth-focused community-based organizations:
  • Promoting and popularizing official national youth policy, and facilitating the periodic review of said policy;
  • Mobilizing resources to support and fund youth programs and initiatives;
  • Lobbying for legislation on issues affecting youth;
  • Liaising with other organizations to ensure youth have access to resources and services appropriate to their needs;
  • Inspiring and promoting "the spirit of unity, patriotism, volunteerism and service among the youth";
  • "[Acting] as a voice and bridge to ensure that the government and other policy makers are kept informed of the views and other aspirations of the youth";
  • Promoting research on youth issues.
The bill, however, includes no requirement that its membership include actual youth. The membership requirements also make it unlikely that the members would be representative of the population as a whole. Members must have a university degree and 3 years of experience developing youth programs or projects.

For a critique of the bill, see this blog post.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

New text on children and young people's participation

There's a new book out from Routledge called A Handbook of Children and Young People's Participation: Perspectives from Theory and Practice, by Barry Percy-Smith and Nigel Thomas. It's 400 pages and aimed at both scholars and practioners.

From the flyer:
Promoting the participation of children and young people--in decision-making and policy development, and as active contributors to everyday family and community life--has become a central part of policy and programme initiatives in both majority and minority worlds.

This book presents the most useful recent work in children’s participation as a resource for academics, students and practitioners in childhood studies, children’s rights and welfare, child and family social work, youth and community work, governance, aid and development programmes.

The book introduces key concepts and debates, and presents a rich collection of accounts of the diverse ways in which children’s participation is understood and enacted around the world, interspersed with reflective commentaries from adults and young people. It concludes with a number of substantial theoretical contributions that aim to take forward our understanding of children’s participation.
Some sample chapters:
  • Challenges of participatory practice
  • Armed conflict and post conflict peace building
  • Participation of children in the most difficult situations
  • Children’s participation in law reform in South Africa
  • Disabled children and participation in the UK
  • Participation among young people with mental health issue
  • The construction of childhood and the socialisation of children in Ghana
  • Youth participation in indigenous traditional communities
  • Children’s participation in school and the local community
  • Getting the measure of children and young people’s participation
  • Challenging obstacles to the participation of children and young people in Rwanda
  • Child reporters as agents of change
  • Children’s participation in citizenship and governance
  • The effectiveness of Youth Councils in Scotland
  • Critiquing youth parliaments as models of representation for marginalised young people
  • Children and deliberative democracy
  • Governance and participation
Barry Percy-Smith is Reader in Childhood and Participatory Practice at the SOLAR Action Research Centre, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK.

Nigel Thomas is Professor of Childhood and Youth Research at the University of Central Lancashire, UK, and Co-Director of The Centre, which promotes and conducts research on children and young people’s participation.

A Handbook of Children and Young People's Participation will be available August 14, 2009.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

InvolveYouth, Toronto

InvolveYouth is a campaign launched by the City of Toronto, Ontario, in January 2004 to encourage community-based organizations to involve young people in decision-making. The campaign includes a major citywide advertising campaign as well as training sessions for organizations interested in youth participation.

InvolveYouth has developed a guide to involving youth in decision-making called "InvolveYouth: A guide to involving youth in decision-making." You can download a PDF version of the guide, order a hard copy and check out some of InvolveYouth's workshops on the City of Toronto website.

2009 Global Youth Assembly in Edmonton, Ontario, July 30 to August 2

From July 30 to August 2 over 500 young people from over 34 countries, between the ages of 16 and 28 will participate in the 2009 Ignite Change Now! Global Youth Assembly (GYA) in Edmonton, Ontario, Canada. The GYA will include a youth dialogue with Canada's Governor General Michaëlle Jean and general sessions such as "Action is Hot, Apathy is Not: Politics & Building Community," with a panel of young politicians and others who will discuss the importance of participating in politics and how to get involved. The GYA will also include workshops, such as a presentation by the Edmonton Youth Council and another on local economic development--including the role of youth--presented by the Ainembabazi Children's Project from Uganda.

The Youth Dialogue is one of a series of such events hosted by the Governor General across Canada. According to Governor General Jean's website she shares with decision-makers the ideas and perspectives she hears from young people in these sessions.

Ignite Change Now! Global Youth Assembly

Governor General's Youth Dialogues

More from Ghana

The Upper East Regional Office of the National Youth Council of Ghana held a regional dialog in Bolgatanga on Tuesday to discuss youth development and boost youth participation in community development decision-making.

Upper East Regional Minister Mark Woyongo stated that the government is committed to youth development and has appointed a number of young people to ministerial positions. According to Moyongo,
“The present Government is more committed to the development of a dynamic pro-youth, national youth policy to provide the appropriate platform for engaging the youth in matters affecting them and engaging them in civil responsibility debates as well as involving them in decision making."
Youth in Upper East Hold Regional Dialogue Forum in Bolgatanga

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Junior 8 Summit 2009

Fourteen young people aged 14-17, from countries represented at the Group of 8 Summit being held in L'Aquila, Italy, today called on their respective leaders to get serious about climate change and education. These young people were part of the Junior 8 Summit 2009 in Rome, sponsored by UNICEF.
The Junior 8 Summit, or J8, is an annual forum where young people from around the world meet to share their concerns and recommendations on how to solve global issues with G8 leaders and the world community. The Summit is a parallel youth event to the annual Group of 8 (G8) Summit of world leaders.
This year's J8 event, taking place July 5-12, includes 54 youth from Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the U.K. and the U.S.

The 40 youth who did not take part in the G8 discussion visited Italy's Chamber of Deputies and presented their Rome Declaration to the Deputies. The Declaration includes sections on the following:
  • Children's rights in the context of the global financial crisis;
  • Climate change;
  • Poverty and development in Africa; and
  • Education.
Rome Declaration

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

European Youth Congress

You don't have much time, but the 2009 European Youth Congress will be held in Izola, Slovenia July 25 through August 1. The theme is "Challenge, Suggest, Act!" The event is billed as a response to apathy among European youth. Sponsors include the European Commission and Peace Child International.

The goal of the Congress is to encourage the inclusion of "young people with fewer opportunities," or YPFOs, in decision-making in Europe. According to the website there are 73 million YPFOs, described as:
all young people that have had difficulties to integrate in the society due to their background (mental or physical disability, ethnical or difficult family background, socio-economical status, sex orientation, criminal past, being an early school dropper, living in a remote area etc.)
In addition to YPFOs, the Congress will address gender empowerment, the possibility of a post-carbon Europe and the 5th World Youth Congress to be held in Istanbul in 2010. The World Youth Congress will focus on youth-led development.

5th World Youth Congress

Monday, July 6, 2009

Resource: The Institute on Youth, Education and Families at the National League of Cities

I haven't come across any participation-related news items or events in the last few days, so I thought I would post another good resource I've found. The Institute on Youth, Education and Families (IYEF) at the National League of Cities provides assistance to city leaders (in the U.S.) in a number of areas, including early childhood education, job training, after school programs, support for disconnected youth and K-12 education. Most relevant to the subject of this blog, however, is IYEF's work on youth master planning and youth participation in local government.

Youth master planning, according to the IYEF website, is:
"a process in which city leaders bring together various constituencies--including young people, the school district, parents, businesses, and others--to engage in a process of gathering and using information to establish a set of priorities for the community at large. Based on those priorities, specific action steps are established to improve the lives of children, young people, and families in that community."

A youth master plan would include an assessment of a community's needs and assets with respect to youth, and specific goals and strategies for utilizing the assets and meeting the needs. Young people are very involved in developing youth master plans, which presumably encourages them to stay involved once the plans are completed.

IYEF also provides assistance to cities in promoting youth voice in local government. Among the strategies suggested are establishing a youth advisory council, hosting a youth summit, conducting youth mapping projects and appointing young people to local boards and commissions.

The YEF Institute also hosts the Youth Policy Advisors Network (YPAN), which helps local leaders promote youth participation in local government by sharing resources, research, tools and strategies, policies and best practices.

Finally, IYEF hosts "YouthScape," a website designed to help youth leaders who are active in local government to share their experiences and learn from one another.

Institute on Youth, Education and Families

Youth Participation Advisors Network


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Earth Island Institute's New Leaders Initiative

I just saw a short TV program that made me smile and gave me hope. The Earth Island Institute sponsors an annual awards program called the Brower Youth Awards as part of its New Leaders Initiative. This year's honorees are six absolutely amazing young people! For example, Jessie-Ruth Corkins, of Bristol, Vermont, helped start the Vermont Sustainable Heating Initiative, a group of over 200 youth from 26 high schools pushing for more sustainable solutions to Vermont's energy needs. Jessie-Ruth and VSHI have met with state legislators, the Governor and members of the state's Congressional delegation and have developed a plan to use 100,000 acres of under-utilized land to grow prairie grasses that could be transformed into enough pellet fuel to heat all of Vermont's homes without heating oil.

Check out all of the Brower award winners here: Brower Youth Awards

Vermont Sustainable Heating initiative

California bill would excuse students from school for civic leadership activities

California Assemblywoman Wilmer Amina Carter has sponsored a bill that would allow students to be excused from school to participate in civic engagement and leadership activities. Eligible activities would include serving on a community committee, an advisory board or task force, attending a town hall meeting or an educational conference on the legislative or judicial process, or becoming a member of a youth commission. Participation in political campaign activities would not be eligible.

Assembly Bill 796

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Young Victorian of the Year says Australia driven by a "culture of tokenism when it comes to youth participation"

Tom Woodroofe, named the Young Victorian of the Year today for his work encouraging youth participation in politics, writes in the July 2 The Age:
Ironically, since the International Year of Youth in 1985, Australia has been increasingly driven by a culture of tokenism when it comes to youth participation. That year, young people went from being teenagers or adults participating in society as individuals, to being part of a social category that labelled them until they turned 25.

From this came pressure for corporations and government to be seen to be engaging with young people. Tokenistic programs popped up everywhere designed to tick off flashy corporate social responsibility strategies or to fill pages of glossy annual reports with young smiling faces.

But the result has rarely been meaningful participation.

Woodroofe argues that the effectiveness of efforts to engage young people can't be measured by the number of youth engaged, but by the extent to which their involvement leads to actual change. He plans to spend his year in the spotlight not only encouraging more young people to be involved in their communities, but to "refocus youth engagement towards helping young people discover their passions and create change."

Young people don't speak with one voice

Monday, June 29, 2009

British Youth Council and Young UK Ambassadors

The British Youth Council was established in 1948 by the British Foreign Office in preparation for the World Assembly on Youth. Its original purpose was to unite young people in Britain against Communism.

Today the BYC works to support youth voice; it does so by training young people, consulting and leading campaigns on issues important to young people. One of the BYC's current campaigns, for example, is aimed at lowering the voting age to 16.

BYC trainers help organizations engage young people in leadership and prepare young people to participate in the governance of these organizations. One program, called "Youth4U - Young Inspectors," helps youth in disadvantaged communities influence the delivery of services in their communities.

Another new BYC initiative is the Young UK Ambassadors program, a partnership between the youth participation networks of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The Young UK Ambassadors are a team of 15 youth who will represent the UK at international events.

The BYC website also includes a resource center, a calendar of events and a jobs section.

British Youth Council
Young UK Ambassadors

Sunday, June 28, 2009

5th Annual Participation Conference: Power or Tokenism? Young People, Money and Influence

The Regional Youth Work Unit Northeast, in the U.K., is holding its 5th annual conference for child and youth participation workers on July 9, 2009 in Wigan. Speakers include the Policy Manager at the National Youth Agency, and workshop topics include:
* Young People and Participatory Budgeting
* Involving Young People in Commissioning
* National Youth Leadership Body
* Young People’s Involvement in the Children’s Plan

Conference info

A different kind of charter school

A school in Leicestershire, England has created a student participation charter that lays out, in detail, the ways in which students will participate in the governance of the school. The document was created by two members of the local youth council with the support of the borough council and the county council, and will be piloted in a Leicestershire school with the support of a nearby college.

The Forward, written by Gareth Williams, the Director of Children and Young People’s Service for the county, acknowledges the link between student voice initiatives the a healthy democracy:
Encouraging young people to both understand the importance of democratic decision-making and also to develop the skills that go with participative democracy in our communities is a high priority for us.

The democratic life of our country is dependent on future generations playing a full and active part in their communities and making informed choices in elections.

The charter includes numerous criteria by which a school can gauge its commitment to student voice. Schools judged by the Healthy Schools Student Participation Quality Assurance Group to have achieved "advanced" status will receive a Student Participation in School Award. Examples of the criteria include:
11.4 Student Representatives will be involved with the appointment of staff and are suitably prepared for this work (understanding the processes, weighting given to their views and equal opportunities).

12.7 Students will be given the opportunity to be part of the quality assurance process for teaching and learning within the school.

Leicestershire Student and School Participation Charter

Involving children in international climate change policy

Here's a very exciting organization called "Children in a Changing Climate" (CCC) that is working to engage children and youth in climate change policy, research and advocacy.
Children in a Changing Climate is a global collaborative action-research, advocacy and learning programme that aims to secure children's influence in preventing and adapting to climate change at every level - from their families and communities to the United Nations climate change negotiations.
According to the website this effort came out of an action-research project that engaged children in the Phillipines and El Salvador in policymaking related to disasters and climate change. There's currently a link to an 11-minute film about children's involvement in advocacy in these countries. The film includes some words of wisdom from young mentors to adults on how to avoid being boring!

CCC will be launching individual research, policy, learning and action websites. There's also a link to sign up for an electronic newsletter.

Children in a Changing Climate

Here's a related article from the Institute for Development Studies: Putting Children and Future Generations at the Heart of Climate Change and Human Security

The role of intermediary organizations in sustaining student voice initiatives

There's an article in the current Teachers College Record by Dana Mitra of Penn State, describing the importance of outside organizations in sustaining student voice initiatives in schools. You have to be a subscriber to read the whole thing (about fifteen bucks a year, and well worth it), but here is the nickel version:
Findings/Results: The data indicate that the persistence of a student-voice effort after the initial influx of funds and support disappeared requires support from an intermediary organization (IO)—an organization located outside the auspices of school walls. IOs can help with fostering a clear and long-term vision, providing a more stable source of leadership, identifying ongoing financial and collaborative resources, and building a network for knowledge generation and sharing.

Conclusions/Recommendations: Although they are a part of many reform initiatives, partnerships with IOs are usually considered to be short-term relationships during the implementation phase of an initiative. This research instead suggests that IOs might be better suited as long-term partners in many change efforts. An awareness of the important roles that IOs can play in the long-term work toward change could help researchers, practitioners, and policy makers think more intentionally about how to plan for stabilizing such partnerships as an avenue toward sustaining reform initiatives.

The Role of Intermediary Organizations in Sustaining Student Voice Initiatives

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

African Youth & Governance Conference August 12-14, Ghana

The Youthbridge Foundation of Ghana is sponsoring an African Youth and Governance Conference in Accra, Ghana August 12-14. From the letter of invitation:

"The 3-day event is being organized to engage the youth in Africa in development dialogue with other stakeholders on governance in African countries and the continent as a whole. It will also have highlights on the ratification of the African Youth Charter and the Africa Union’s declaration of Decade of Youth Development in Africa."

The conference will be organized around three themes:
• Policy
• Participation and Empowerment
• Mobilization in Africa.

Registration closes July 6. For more information visit TakingITGlobal or the conference website.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tunisian President touts youth engagement efforts

In an interview with Mark Newton, of the Oxford Business Group, Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali discussed some of his administration's accomplishments with respect to youth civic engagement. Among other things, President Ben Ali noted that the minimum age for membership in Parliament and municipal councils had been lowered to 23, and the voting age was lowered from 20 to 18.

According to President Ben Ali, hundreds of thousands of Tunisian youth participated in the government's "Dialogue with Youth" program in 2008, which seeks to include youth voices in policy development. The dialog led to the creation of a "Youth Pact," under which a commission will be established to formulate a national strategy for youth policy. Political participation of young people will be a key area of focus. President Ben Ali states,

I am convinced that involving youth in making decisions and in conceiving and formulating policy can only deepen their sense of responsibility.

Ben Ali: We have managed to accomplish a number of significant achievements in Tunisia

Monday, June 22, 2009

Singing in the Istanbul rain

A hundred and fifty young people from across the world were invited to the fourth World Water Forum in Istanbul, Turkey this past March. Unfortunately, they experienced the kind of treatment from the political leaders that is too often experienced by young people trying to make a difference. According to Emilie O'Herne, one of the young forum participants,

"Across the world, the younger generations are patronisingly patted on the head by their seniors for taking an interest in global issues - if as much - and then efficiently ignored. There is little that quite boosts a politician's popularity like playing the "I love youth" card, but to actually listen to them seems out of the question. Youth involvement in this domain has become a nasty piece of tokenism in which young people are invited for the sake of being invited and nothing more. It is simply not enough."

Fortunately, Emilie and her young colleagues refused to be ignored at the conference and were able to get some attention. And despite her frustration, Emilie offers these words to other youth:

"[W]e should not be discouraged even if we are turned down; after all, live to fight another day and one day soon you will be old enough to be taken seriously."

Singing in the Istanbul rain

Zuma observes anniversary of students' uprising on 'Youth Day'

Durban, South Africa, June 16: While honoring the young people who died protesting apartheid 33 years ago, South African President Jacob Zuma promised that the country's National Youth Development Agency would "assist in promoting youth participation in democratic processes, community and civic decision-making and development at all levels."

Zuma observes anniversary of students' uprising on 'Youth Day'

Looks like some in South Africa have their doubts about this agency, however.

Participation Works

Continuing in the international vein, one fantastic resource I've found on youth and child participation is the Participation Works portal operated by six national children and young people's agencies in the United Kingdom. Participation Works provides information about events, jobs, new publications, news and professional networks for "participation workers."

The "Topics" page, for example, includes links to resources in the areas of Arts & Creativity, Early Years, Governance, Learning and Research, Measuring Change, Policy, Rights, Standards, and many others.

Even if you don't live in the U.K. it's got lots of useful links and resources.

Participation Works

Moroccan youth eager to participate in communal elections

Note: This refers to elections that took place in Morocco June 12, but it's still pretty interesting.

Communal elections were held recently in Morocco. As the elections approached, observers noted a major difference from the last national poll. In 2007, young people seemed apathetic. This time, however, many young Moroccans planned to vote, or even stand for election themselves.

Some young Moroccans were skeptical:

“Whether we go to the ballot boxes or not, whether we defended our own existence and run in the elections or not, the situation will be the same,” university student Rachid complains.

“It's the same old clichés – democracy, change, transparency, and service of public interests – which can be seen in all party slogans and speeches by their leaders, but we don't see any implementation on the ground,” he says.

Others are more hopeful:

“Participation in communal elections this year represents a break with the past,” Younes Naoumi tells Magharebia. “It's also an opportunity for young people to defy the stereotype that some people give us as the weak link in building Moroccan society.”

Naoumi is among 25 candidates under 30 years old who will be on the ballot June 12th for local leadership positions in the Hay Mohammedi neighbourhood of Casablanca. He has a strong desire to change the traditional image of communal advisor because, to his view, communal officials have consistently failed to achieve the goals and needs of their constituents.

Morocco's National Institute for Youth and Democracy (NIYD) offered training and support for the young candidates. About forty young men and women were accompanied during the campaign by NIYD experts who advised them to be tolerant and to respect their competitors, and not to make false promises.

Moroccan youth eager to participate in communal elections

Young entrepreneurs lend voices to improve employment for Arab youth

"In a new three-way collaboration, Silatech, the British Council and the Qatari Students Network brought together 50 young entrepreneurs from across the Arab world and the UK to lend their voices to efforts to improve the employment prospects for young people in the region."

Powerful collaboration on Arab youth employment