Boston - a city with a strong tradition of involving young people in city government - launched the "Youth lead the Change" initiative with the following goals:
- Increase Youth Power: Engage youth in meaningful decision-making and prove that young people are the solution, not the problem.
- Allow All Voices to Be Heard: Include all community stakeholders in the democratic process.
- Build Stronger, Safer, and Healthier Communities : Bring neighborhoods together, solve community problems, and develop projects that will improve the well-being of all members of the community.
- Strengthen City-wide Sense of Pride, Solidarity, and Equality : Create a unified Boston across neighborhoods where everyone feels part of a growing community.
- Pathways Into Civic Life : Create an entry point for young people to become civically engaged and learn about the city and government (literally via Boston Centers for Youth & Families)
Part of the initiative are teenagers who are given the power to allocate a million dollars a year on urban improvements. Project proposals have already led to playground makeovers. The Franklin Park playground improvements are currently under construction and "include designs to better serve children with disabilities". Facilitators working with the teenagers speak the languages of today's Boston teens, such as Cape Verdean, Spanish, Haitian Creole and Somali. The initiative is successful and has already inspired other cities ... Seattle has recently launched a youth programme (The Guardian).
"A pilot year evaluation showed that young participants reported personal benefits from their involvement, including heightened awareness of community needs and government processes, and new skills such as patience and teamwork."- - - - - - - - - -
Photo via S. Chick