By Shayna Gladstone
According to the Knight Foundation, statistics also show a gap. ‘Often that energy, that desire to contribute or lead, is going unsupported and untapped, they said.’ Teens and young adults don’t always see a place for their voice and their work.’ They feel unwelcome, perhaps a result of negative messages about youth coming from adults and even the media.
We are running out of time to solve the climate crisis. Every day it seems more people are calling out for climate action, but still, every time global leaders meet they fail to reach binding agreements to curb greenhouse gasses.
Youth around the world feel fear and despair when they think about what climate change could mean for their future. While this generation has the most at stake when it comes to preventing climate chaos, many young people don’t know where to start in addressing this huge issue. Many youth are looking for ways to be a part of the solution, but need the training and support to take the next step.
In light of the issue we are facing, here is a list of 9 ways we can start empowering youth and children to be positive youth leaders NOW:
1. Give the youth tools to collaborate and problem solve, brainstorm and reflect.
Providing youth with the information and resources necessary for analyzing issues that affect their lives and environments will help them become strong strategizers on ways to act as change agents in their communities.
2. Encourage them to use their passions for good.
Guiding youth to use what their passions and creativity to share positive messages or bring attention to issues they care about will allow them to find purpose within their passion and use the power of their joy to share important messages.
3. Guide them to believe that their voice matters without judging or criticizing their ideas.
Empowering youth to understand that their voice makes a huge difference in this world and that all ideas are worth exploring will only give them more motivation and fuel to continue strengthening their own power for change.
4. Guide them to understand that people will not always want to listen, just because we would like them to but to not take it personally.
Helping youth to understand that not everyone is going to respond the way you hope they would and that some people may not be ready to hear what you want to share will support their confidence. It’s important to let youth know that when someone doesn’t listen to them, allow that to only make them stronger.
5. Help them learn that sometimes even the most fabulous idea may need a bit more logistical planning.
Guiding youth to help them understand that all visions and ideas take time to make sure they are realistic and well thought through. Help them to know that there are different stages to a project and the first stage is having an idea but there are many stages after that. This will help them understand the full process and not get stuck on one idea.
6. Help youth develop habits, that in the end, they can sustain without ‘suggestions’ or prodding.
Good habits produce sustainable leaders. Youth that have good habits for their own well-being and constant personal progression that they enjoy will help them become strong leaders on their own.
7. Give youth a chance for them to fail but help them to learn to succeed.
Let youth know that failing is not a bad thing to happen, it’s actually important to find out what went wrong so they can improve and make it better the next time they try. Often the way to success is through failure.
8. Employ storytelling of successful youth leadership to counteract negative messages about young people.
Encourage youth to speak about to their triumphs often, to share their victories across all media platforms to reinforce the positive change that has occurred. This will empower more positive action to continue and give youth more foundation and support to work from.
9. Invite the youth to launch a project or idea and support their progress.
Support youth in implementing their project once they feel they have come up with a good strategy and support them along the way. Allowing them to carry out their vision with the encouragement and coaching support will be an empowering experience and let them feel supported in their process.