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 Michaƫlle 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