apathy and youth engagement

Back in the fall I participated in a panel discussion on apathy and youth engagement hosted by Rethos (www.rethos.com/whatwillyouhavestoodfor).  The organizers send list of questions to prepare with – I shared them with my colleagues at YCI and our Volunteer Advisory Council and with everyone’s input I put together the following notes on my favourite three…

How would you respond to these questions?

Are young people apathetic?

No – big generalization – we believe youth are certainly engaged but more often than not in areas, communities, issues etc. where they feel they can effect change. By casting youth as apathetic in the media – we allow decision makers to continue to ignore youth as a constituency – resulting in missing the real issue – that the opinions youth are often dismissed AND that they are taking action in their communities, schools etc.

What is the role of nonprofit organizations as a gateway for engagement?

We believe nonprofits play a very important role to play in providing youth a platform from which to become active and engaged citizens. However it is crucial for organizations to work with youth in meaningful projects where they can make a real difference and move beyond tokenism.

Best practices for nonprofits to engage youth include:

       Youth led decision-making structures and leadership within organizations serving youth population.

       Youth need to play a central role in program development, implementation and evaluation.

YCI’s Volunteer Action Network sees youth leading their own projects with leadership from the Volunteer Advisory Council – a youth driven body with representation on the Board of Directors.

What is the role of the internet and media for engagement?

The internet and other media are excellent tools to disseminate information –awareness campaigns, tools, resources, contact information etc. Engagement should: enable the sharing of visions and values, discussion of the common good, the definition of collective goals and the development of skills and strategies required to reach them. Question is – how to move from online communication to offline action?

Interested in getting involved?  Get in touch!  erin@yci.org


One thought on “apathy and youth engagement

  1. I beleive that the myth that youth are apathetic is unfounded and a bd generalisation. The issue we are faced with as youth is the lack of adequte and meaninful space to participate effectively in governance and development in general. More so in South Africa where traditional forms of governance are being dismantled to inclucate a new culture of informing the way the country should be run. Of-course in an emvironment like, the most powerful in society would take up centre stage and influence decisions, would neglect to build the capacity of those that are needing it for their effective engagement and they would usurp the processes and speak on behalf of the vulnerable.

    This is the environment that youth are trying to speak in and with good research and capacity development, youth could take the centre stage and become influential in teh future.

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