Learning from the Me To We Scandal

There is a LOT to learn in the debacle behind the scandal affecting the Canadian organization working internationally called ME to WE.

As a Canadian and as a youth advocate, I’m particularly interested in the lessons of the vigorous anti-Me to WE campaign that’s rallying against the Craig and Marc Keilburger and the movement they’ve established over the last 25 years. To sum up the scandal, the Canadian federal government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is accused of cronyism with the Keilburgers and their organization by granting them a great deal of unsolicited funds designed to employ Canadian youth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the organization isn’t without fault, I think the entire situation is merely a cover for a more covert and cynical move by Trudeau’s political opponents. If ME to WE is guilty of anything, it was becoming an opportunistic pawn in a political game they didn’t want to play.

“We were not chosen for this work by public servants because of our relationship with politicians,” said Craig. “We were chosen because we are willing to leverage every part of our 25 years of experience to build this program at the breakneck speed required to have an impact on Canadian youth over the summer.”

Craig Keilburger to the Canada House Finance Committee in July 2020

Now, for the sake of transparency, I’ll reveal that I’ve had some dealings with Free the Children in the past. Starting in 2002, they didn’t like my “Freechild” branding and let me know. I took a few phone calls with the organization to see if there were collaborative spaces we could share. We decided to go different ways, and I’ve tried to stay out of their lane since. I’ve also read two books by the Keilburgers and attended a WE event in Seattle. I am not pro-WE, but I’m not against them either. We work in not dissimilar ways to accomplish particularly related missions, and while I admire their success I’m particularly suspicious of their methods to accomplish their goals.

That said, I think in this case almost the entire case against Me to WE is a smear campaign. In Canada, the Conservative Party is the minority party right now, and they haaaaate Justin Trudeau. They were hunting for a place to go after him, and voila! They found it in Me to WE.

A recent McLean’s article did a pithy job of getting those nonprofit critics to rip on Me to WE, and what they said was just easy criticism. What Me to WE did was use connections to get funding — which is a typical, traditional nonprofit model. They didn’t color outside the lines and they were more successful than others.

Finding people to speak against them is easy for detractors, if only because so many organizations are truly envious of Me to WE’s successes; the same can be said for deeply cynical, thinly veiled haters who opine against the organization and the Keilburger brothers.

All that said, the valid part of the entire campaign targeting Me to WE is that the Keilburger’s relationship between their nonprofit and their business was shady. Coupled with the reality that the Keilberger brothers profited majorly from the whole thing, that’s not good. Early on there were rumors their parents were profiting too. Too much family involvement and too much individual benefit, and the appearance of them gaming the Canadian nonprofit system is real. As this 2010 article shows, concerns about Me to WE are long-standing too — but that’s one thing that reinforces my conclusion that this is a smear campaign: detractors of Me to WE were simply looking for an opportune moment to link Trudeau to something that appeared shady.

However, the real problem in the whole thing is that this smear is larger than Me to WE and larger than Trudeau.

Instead, its a multi-generational campaign intentionally designed by the Conservatives to ensure another generation of Canadians becomes cynical about the nonprofit complex and the do-gooder mission of Me to WE. This is fuel on the fire of hopelessness, and it bums me out because it is going to be successful.

Hundreds of schools will drop Me to WE curriculum and the mission of young people doing good things to help the world become a better place.

I don’t care how they did it (superstar rallies are cosmetic feel-good BS), the fact is they did motivate a generation to get active, both in Canada, here in the States, and in many other nations worldwide. That’s going to go missing now.

This entire scandal is part of a larger pattern that Canada’s Conservatives and Republicans here in the US saw, where young people in schools were taught for 20 years that they should do good things to help people in the world. They saw that was happening and they stepped in to stop it, and that’s largely worked.

Me to WE is the latest casualty in the war for the hearts and minds of young people. Unfortunately, if we lose their work entirely, we are closer to losing another generation of Canadian youth and young people around the world. The cynicism inherent in this scandal will scare the perceptions of young people, and after being reinforced by the media, their parents and their schools, young people will further withdraw from the absolutely essential efforts our world needs them to take to make the situation here better for everyone.

We have to do better.

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Inconvenient Voices

The idea of listening to voice — whether it’s youth voice, parent voice, worker voice, customer voice, voter voice, or otherwise — is predicated on the truth that without deliberately listening to specific people, they wouldn’t be heard otherwise. Why aren’t they heard already? Because they’re inconvenient voices for the person listening to them.

There have been voices that have been forgotten, shut down, locked out, thrown away and completely disregarded throughout the American democratic experiment. Because of the ways politics, economics, culture, education and other systems work, people in positions of power routinely neglect everyone who doesn’t fit conveniently into their line of sight. That includes those who appear powerless, inconsequential, disposable and otherwise small or little.

The reality that some voices are convenient and some are inconvenient is such a known factor that many leaders rely on it. The people who stand in front of businesses, governments, schools, and communities routinely expect that young people, Black people, GBLTQ+, low-income, undereducated, American Indian, underemployed, underinsured, Hispanic/Latino, and other oppressed people will not show up to be heard.

There are many tools that are proxies for our voices, including voting, spending, attending, Internet clicks, telephone calls and more. Those who are convenient — including adults, white people, heteronormative, middle and upperclass, educated, fully employed, fully insured, and others — conscientiously know to use these proxies for their priorities. As a matter of daily living, the convenient voices in our society know:

  • Votes reflect values, ideals, dreams, hopes and desires;
  • Spending shows priorities, intentions, action and outcomes;
  • Attendance demonstrates commitments, courage, and connections; and,
  • Clicks reflect their attention, showing what they believe in, what they stand against and where they belong.

Convenient voices in our society rely on these proxies, which is what makes them convenient to leaders who rely on them. This is why leaders really don’t like inconvenient voices. Through the social, cultural, educational, economic and other forms of conditioning, many leaders believe that if you’ve never experienced being heard you’ll never expect to raise your voice.

…[M]any leaders believe that if you’ve never experienced being heard you’ll never expect to raise your voice.

The problem of many of these proxies is that they can be used as tools to oppress voices instead of uplifting them. Kept from voting, some people experience it as a futile exercise in disempowerment. Banks and lenders are increasingly labeling entire segments of the population as “failed consumers” who don’t make enough or spend enough money to be worthwhile to advertise to, open stores in, or otherwise serve through their products and services. When people don’t show up, others assign them to be lazy, apathetic or indifferent. Although everyone does it, many assume that too many other people waste time on the Internet doing nothing of use. All of judgment and derision this is oppressive. However, all of these acts are different types of inconvenient voices.

Inconvenient voice is unpredictable: it doesn’t do what leaders want, when they want it, or how they want to hear it. Inconvenient voices aren’t shared by people who leaders want to hear from and they aren’t expressed in ways leaders expect to listen. Instead, what makes these voices inconvenient is that leaders cannot anticipate exactly who is going to speak, when they are going to talk, what they are going to say, why they are sharing it, and how these voices matter.

The challenge isn’t how to make inconvenient voices more convenient. Instead, it’s how to stop many leaders from thinking of people as inconvenient, no matter what station in life they are from. The challenge is how to stop expecting representative democracy to be enough, and instead how to expect, insist and demand fully participatory democracy right now. The challenge is how to stop challenging people to speak in convenient ways, and instead learn to listen to what people are saying; how they are saying it; where it occurs; when it happens; and why it matters. Leaders shouldn’t interpret, translate or otherwise filter what is being said, either. Instead, simply listen, hear, feel, think and appreciate.

Inconvenient voices aren’t about the speakers; they are about the listeners. Are you ready to move stop seeing and treating people as inconvenient?

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Rationalizing Adultism

“Your kids will hate you now but will thank you later” is a crass rationalization that attempts to justify adultism.

“Justified adultism” (aka “righteous adultism” or “pious adultism”) would be anytime adults think they are implicitly and inherently right in doing something for, to, or at children and youth because they are adults, and young people are, well, young.

Well-meaning liberals, ill-conceived conservatives, and people of all ages employ justified adultism all the time to rationalize schools, parenting decisions, technology access, etc.

That’s as opposed to “power trip adultism” (aka “high and mighty adultism” or “adultocracy”), which doesn’t bother to justify itself. Instead, power is simply, automatically and autocratically foisted onto the shoulders of people over 18/21/25 simply because they are recognized as adults.

This is used to grant driving licenses, alcohol purchasing ability, and voting rights to adults, and exclude all young people from the same. Powertrip adultism is less apparent in general behaviors throughout society though, since the old lady scolding kids for riding bike through the road median flowerbed doesn’t really happen anymore.

However, where it does exist it tends to be hyperbolic, ie sending teenage youth to adult jails for teenage crimes.

The line between these two appears arbitrary – AND MIGHT BE COMPLETELY SO – to young people themselves. Ask a youth!

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The Youth Industrial Complex

Synopsis: In the context of decreased support for young people throughout society, it is vital to understand the forces driving the changes underway. The writer identifies and analyzes a phenomenon called the youth-industrial complex that situates the relationships between businesses, governments and nonprofits, as well as the functions between public and private resources, and youth activities. Acknowledging the history and future of the phenomenon, the writer suggests this becomes core knowledge among people within and affected by the complex.

Download “The Youth-Industrial Complex” as a PDF »

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10 Ways To Advocate for Student Voice

Originally published as Fletcher, A. (August 2019) “10 things you can do to advocate for student voice,” Connect 208. p. 20. Retrieved May 12, 2020 from https://research.acer.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1217&context=connect

Student Voice is not a mysterious ethereal thing without faces or names, identity or purpose. Instead, it is the practical expressions of every student in every school about education, learning and schools. For a lot of reasons, sometimes adults don’t want to hear or engage Student Voice though. Whether you are a student or an adult, here are 10 ways you can advocate for Student Voice.

  1. Learn about Student Voice. Did you know that Student Voice is more than classes voting or school-wide meetings? Learn about student voice from the SoundOut website, or through a number of books and websites.
  2. Brainstorm what your school can do to change. The power of your imagination is a terrible thing to waste! Brainstorm different ways your school could engage student voice more, and make a list.
  3. Talk to other students about Student Voice. Ask your friends if they know about Student Voice. Share your ideas about which changes your school can make, and ask if they have any ideas themselves. Challenge them to ask you hard questions, and see if you can answer them, or tell them you’ll get back to them after your learn more.
  4. Find an adult ally. Create a learning partnership with an adult to help your efforts. Engaging an adult ally can make planning more effective and connections with other adults easier.
  5. Create a Student Voice plan for your school or community organization. Maybe your school or the neighborhood nonprofit needs more Student Voice. Work with your friends to make a plan for who, what, when, where and how Student Voice can be used.
  6. Hold a Student Voice workshop. Invite other youth and adults in your community to learn about Student Voice by facilitating a hands-on demonstration workshop. Research Student Voice learning activities and use them to help participants learn by experiencing democracy in education.
  7. Present your plan to school decision-makers. Who makes decisions about how teachers should teach in your school? Teachers, principals, assistant principals, district administrators and district board of education members can all affect Student Voice. Share your plan to them one-on-one or make a presentation to the school board.
  8. Present your plan to community decision-makers. Who chooses which schools and nonprofit organizations get funding? Present your plan to them, as well as neighborhood association presidents, local businesspeople and youth organizations’ leaders.
  9. Organize! If your efforts to work with the education system aren’t working, organize. Find other people who care about Student Voice by sharing the idea every chance you get, and ask them to join you in promoting the concept in your school or community. Then determine a goal and take action to put Student Voice into action for everyone!
  10. Find allies online. Having a hard time finding other youth and adults who care? Look online through websites like soundout.org. People you can partner with are everywhere, and sometimes it’s just a matter of asking!

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Remembering Lois

My friend Lois Brewer has passed away.

On Sunday, April 12, 2020, Lois Brewer’s family announced her passing. Seattle’s strongest champion for service learning, Lois began her advocacy and involvement with the movement in the 1990s. After that, she became involved in the local, state and national levels promoting high quality, authentic, equitable and powerful service learning experiences for students.

Along the way, she and I wove together a tapestry of mutual respect, friendship and determination. We met in 1999 when I was an AmeriCorps Leader in New Mexico and presented at the National Service Learning Conference. Lois came to me after my session and said we should work together when I got back to Washington state, and I excitedly agreed. The next year we became friends through involvement with the Learn and Serve America grant at the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. After that, she and I collaborated on literally dozens of projects, building activities from scratch and fighting the good fight as comrades.

A microbiologist by training, Lois’s love for learning led to her involvement with Seattle Public Schools and a decades-long career in service to others. More than 30 years ago, Lois established and led a program called Service Learning Seattle. Through it, she guided dozens of K-12 schools citywide as they created powerful, effective opportunities for students to learn through service. In addition to convening a large annual symposium for hundreds of student and educators to attend, Lois was also the engine behind some of the earliest efforts in King County to focus on the south side of Seattle. She was also a grant writer for students at Stevens Elementary and Cleveland STEM High Schools. Her support was also given to AmeriCorps and VISTA while she helped dozens of members towards success through the years. 

“Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can do.”

Arthur Ashe

Lois was active in the service learning movement throughout her career. A frequent presenter at the National Service Learning Conference, she was a founding member of Service Learning Washington, the Seattle Youth Engagement Zone, and the King County Youth Engagement Practitioners Cadre. She was also a member of SOAR and Civics for All, and a champion of student equity, STEM, civic education and much more.

We conspired on things a lot, and she frequently brought me into spaces I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. Early in our efforts, Lois helped me with presentations at the National Service Learning Conference. Throughout the years, she gave me keynote opportunities at conferences for Seattle Public Schools, let me facilitate workshops at several of her annual symposia, and worked with me to develop her organization, Service Learning Seattle, as well as the Seattle Youth Engagement Zone and more. We sat on SOAR’s Partnership Board together for five years, and she funded some of my best work, including the SoundOut Summer Camps in Seattle; the Youth Media Summer Camp, and; the King County Youth Engagement Practitioners Cadre.

The last time Lois and I talked was January of this year. We sat in her beautiful Craftsman style home at her gorgeous oak dining room table on a sunny winter day. Along with discussing racial equity, youth engagement, service learning and changing schools like we always did, she doted on her grandkids in New Mexico. It was always the best to hear her enjoy them, along with her love of her son and daughter. She was so proud of them all. While we sat there her husband Don was in the backyard doing a project, but came in and said goodbye to me when I left. Lois waved me out the door, smiling like she always did, and I felt good about where we were: On fire with the love of helping schools be better, and engaging youth in making the world a better place.

Lois lived by the Arthur Ashe quote, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can do.” She would have wanted nothing more than for us to honor that message in her memory.

Goodbye Lois.

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Serving the School as Community

Originally published as:
Fletcher, A. (2006) “SoundOut: Serving the school as community,” ServiceLine Journal 16 (1). Page 3. Olympia, WA: Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The agenda of schools is routinely set by adults.

“Educating the future workforce,” “Promoting abetter tomorrow,” and even, “Making a better democracy,” are all goals found plastered across schools throughout Washington. Recent statistics show that 92% of any given school’s total population is made of students themselves, and that students routinely spend anywhere from six to ten hours a day at school.

However, when was the last time students themselves had a voice in determining the goals of education?

I founded SoundOut in 2003 to respond to this inequity. After carefully studying research supporting student voice, I held informal conversations with students, teachers, administrators, and other allies across the country that helped me form a new vision of education. At its heart, this vision is service-learning: it centers on infusing radical democracy throughout the education system, where adults partner with every student as they learn, teach, and lead democracy throughout society.

SoundOut has several projects, including a growing Internet resource center for educators, school-wide leadership training for students and adults, and student-centered programs for schools. Our most successful project so far has been the SoundOut Student Forums. With the support of the HumanLinks Foundation in Bothell, Washington, SoundOut has worked with more than 500 students and educators in 12 schools from each corner of the state to foster student involvement in school improvement.Working with a principal-selected cadre of traditional and nontraditional student leaders in each school,SoundOut trains participants to solicit, analyze, and aggregate student voice centered on changing schools.

Using these findings, the student leaders partner with teachers to design and implement action plans responding to the most urgent student concerns.In some cases students also correlate their findings with their school’s formalized improvement plan, increasing the efficacy and sustainability of their findings and action plans.I have found that students are more than willing to share their thoughts, emotions, ideas, and dreams about school – when given proper respect, encouragement, and safety.

One of the biggest roadblocks I’ve experienced hasn’t been students’ reception; instead, it’s been adults. When told that their students are going to be encouraged to speak frankly about teaching styles, classroom curricula, or the learning environment, a few teachers in each school actually act aggressively towards their students, using their authority to threaten students.This serves to extinguish any enthusiasm students may have felt for the project; worst still, it encourages other teachers to do the same. More than one school building leader has approached me excitedly about hosting the SoundOut Student Forums in theirschool, only to leave their students “hung dry”when teachers complained about the outcomes ofthe forums.There have also been some glorious occasionswhere you could almost feel the culture of a school change.

In a 2005 training event sponsored by OSPI, the assistant principal of a rural high school led his students towards a SoundOut training event pragmatically, privately revealing to me that, “We’ve got to find some way to connect with our kids, in a massive and real way. They’re moving out of town too fast, and we need their energy to keep the town alive.” That sort of desperation falls heavy on any facilitator’s shoulders, and I am adamant telling people that I don’t offer any “silver bullets” for their schools, let alone entire communities. However, within two days the students from this school left the training charged, committed to helping their peers see the necessity of staying in town and making it a better place. Moreover, the school’s principal showed up at the closing of the event to thank me personally, because, as he said, “I could feel the energy of [the assistant principal] and the kids over the phone!” Calling in on them recently reconfirmed my hopes, when the “Student/AdultPartner Committee” leader (a student) told me that everything was going excellent at his school, because of the SoundOut training.

The SoundOut Student Forums embody a powerful model of service-learning by engaging students as full members of their school community.This authoritative position actively builds on students’ interpersonal communication and critical thinking skills, as well as building their sense of civic responsibility by extending their notion of community.Students work extensively with adult partners and their peers to identify real community needs within education; this strengthens the collaborative process at the heart of effective service learning. The entirety of the project is contingent upon student voice, and embeds reflection throughout.Recently, SoundOut became a program of anew national nonprofit organization formed in Olympia called CommonAction.

Focusing on promoting democratic youth-adult partnerships throughout society, SoundOut fits perfectly withinCommonAction’s mission. We are actively seeking new schools to participate in our training and programs, as well as funders to help the project take wings. With luck, the notion behind SoundOut will grow well beyond our meager number of schools; we only hope to support this movement as it goes there. I would love to hear what you think.


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Adam F.C. Fletcher Bibliography

This is a list of books, chapters for edited books, academic journal articles, magazine articles and other materials Adam F. C. Fletcher has written independently and for publishers.

Chronological listing

  1. (forthcoming) Democracy Deficit Disorder: Learning Democracy with the Next Generation (with J. Cynthia McDermott). New York City: Peter Lang Publishers.
  2. “Sabotaging Meaningful Student Involvement,” (April 2020) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 242. Pages 23-26. ISSN 2202-4908.
  3. “Youth Voice at home,” (April 2020) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 242. Pages 26-27. ISSN 2202-4908.
  4. “Chapter Chapter 10- Going beyond student voice through meta-level education transformation” in Lowe, T. and El Hakim, Y (2020) A Handbook for Student Engagement in Higher Education: Theory into Practice. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0429023033.
  5. (Winter 2019) “Welcome to the Movement for Meaningful Student Involvement,” LeaderBoard 5(1). Michigan Association of School Boards. Pages 18-21.
  6. “Walking with Terry in Northern England,” (August 2019) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 238. Pages 23. ISSN 2202-4908.
  7. “Chapter 6- Beyond Revolution: Transforming Whole Schools to Foster Student Power” in Wurdinger, S.D., McDermott, J.C., Harell, K. and Smith, H. (eds) (2019) Empowering our Students for the Future Encouraging Self-Direction and Life-Long Learning. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1475845808.
  8. Parent Youth Engagement Seminar Curriculum (2018) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 192 pages.
  9. Student Voice Revolution: The Meaningful Student Involvement Handbook (2017) Olympia, WA: CommonAction Publishing. 374 pages. ISBN 978-0692954447.
  10. North Omaha History: Volume One (as Adam Fletcher Sasse) (2016) Scotts Valley, CA: Createspace. 274 pages. ISBN 978-1533361981.
  11. North Omaha History: Volume Two (as Adam Fletcher Sasse) (2016) Scotts Valley, CA: Createspace. 282 pages. ISBN 978-1539578635.
  12. North Omaha History: Volume Three (as Adam Fletcher Sasse) (2016) Scotts Valley, CA: Createspace. 292 pages. ISBN 978-1539973614.
  13. “Roles for students throughout the education system,” (October 2017) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 227. Pages 22-23. ISSN 2202-4908.
  14. (Fall 2016/5777) “A Short History of North Omaha’s Now-Abandoned Jewish Community” (as Adam Fletcher Sasse) in Western States Jewish History, vol. XLIX no. 1. Pages 57-65.
  15. Facing Adultism (2015) Scotts Valley, CA: Createspace. 190 pages. ISBN 978-1517641238.
  16. “Before You Were Alive: A Taskforce on Student Involvement,” (June 2015) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 213. Pages 22-23. ISSN 2202-4908.
  17. A Short Introduction to Youth Engagement in the Economy (2015) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 81 pages.
  18. Freechild Youth Action Program Curriculum (2015) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 129 pages.
  19. The Practice of Youth Engagement (2014) Scotts Valley, CA: Createspace. 294 pages. ISBN 978-1501001758.
  20. A Short Introduction to Youth Rights (2014) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 14 pages.
  21. The Guide to Student Voice (2014) Olympia, WA: CommonAction Publishing. 66 pages. ISBN 978-0692217320.
  22. School Boards of the Future: A Guide to Students as Education Policy-Makers (2014) Scotts Valley, CA: Createspace. 54 pages. ISBN 978-1502983442.
  23. A Short Guide to Holistic Youth Development (2014) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 28 pages.
  24. “10 things you can do to advocate for student voice,” (August 2014) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 208. Pages 20. ISSN 2202-4908.
  25. A Short Introduction to Youth Engagement (2013) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 22 pages.
  26. A Unique Introduction to Youth Engagement (2013) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 23 pages.
  27. The Freechild Project Youth-Driven Programming Guide (2013) Scotts Valley: Createspace. 56 pages. ISBN 978-1482607727.
  28. The Freechild Project Youth Action Guide (2013) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 52 pages.
  29. “Cascading leadership among students,” (June 2013) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 201. Pages 21-22. ISSN 2202-4908.
  30. “51 ways to tokenize student voice,” (February 2013) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 199. Pages 19-20. ISSN 2202-4908.
  31. Suffering Love, Laughing at Myself (as Adam Sasse) (2013) Scotts Valley, CA: Createspace. 60 pages. ISBN 978-1492244653.
  32. “Full personhood for all,” (April 2013) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 200. Page 21-22. ISSN 2202-4908.
  33. “Students as education advocates,” (February 2012) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 193. Pages 22-23. ISSN 2202-4908.
  34. SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum (2012) Scotts Valley, CA: Createspace. 378 pages. ISBN 978-1483941394.
  35. “Convenient or inconvenient student voice,” (October 2012) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 197. Page 18-19. ISSN 2202-4908.
  36. “Student voice as a Trojan horse,” (April 2012) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 194-195. Pages 24. ISSN 2202-4908.
  37. “Students as education decision-makers,” (December 2011) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 192. Pages 15-16. ABN 98-174-663-341.
  38. “Students as education evaluators,” (October 2011) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 191. Page 32-33. ISSN 2202-4908.
  39. “Keeping an eye out: How adults perceive students,” (August 2011) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 190. Page 27. ISSN 2202-4908.
  40. “Students as researchers,” (June 2011) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 189. Pages 22. ISSN 2202-4908.
  41. “Students as education planners,” (April 2011) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 188. Pages 20. ABN 98-174-663-341.
  42. The Freechild Project Youth Voice Toolkit (2011) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 105 pages.
  43. “Typical engagement?,” (February 2011) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 187. Pages 24-25. ISSN 2202-4908.
  44. The Freechild Project Youth Engagement Workshop Guide (2010) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 71 pages.
  45. “Rules of student engagement,” (October-December 2010) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 185-186. Pages 33. ISSN 2202-4908.
  46. “Meaningful student involvement in the USA and Canada,” (August 2010) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 184. Page 20. ISSN 2202-4908.
  47. “The Architecture of Student Ownership,” Educational Leadership 66 (3), 96. (Fall 2008) Pages 23-29.
  48. “10 ways to kill student engagement,” (August-October 2007) Connect Supporting Student Participation No. 166-167. Page 3. ISSN 2202-4908.
  49. Washington Youth Voice Handbook: The what, who, why, where, when, and how youth voice happens (2006) Olympia, WA: CommonAction
  50. Guide to Social Change Led By and With Young People (2006) Olympia, WA: Freechild Project.
  51. Fletcher, A. (Fall 2006) “When youth voice grows up,” ServiceLine Journal 17 (1) Page 5-6. Olympia, WA: Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  52. Fletcher, A. (2006) “SoundOut: Serving the school as community,” ServiceLine Journal 16 (1). Page 3. Olympia, WA: Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  53. Meaningful Student Involvement Research Guide (2005) Olympia, WA: SoundOut.
  54. Meaningful Student Involvement Guide to Students as Partners in School Change (2005) Olympia, WA: SoundOut.
  55. Guide to Cooperative Games for Social Change (2005) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 48 pages.
  56. Fletcher, A. (Fall 2005) “Learning from failure,” ServiceLine Journal 15 (2). Page 10-11. Olympia, WA: Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  57. Fletcher, A. (Spring 2005) “Students reflect on learning through service to the environment,” ServiceLine Journal 15 (1). Pages 10-11. Olympia, WA: Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  58. “Meaningful Student Involvement: Reciprocity in Schools through Service-Learning” (2004) The Bridge: The Journal of University Promise. University of Minnesota. Pages 96-114.
  59. Stories of Meaningful Student Involvement (2003) Bothell, WA: HumanLinks Foundation and SoundOut.
  60. Meaningful Student Involvement Resource Guide (2003) Bothell, WA: HumanLinks Foundation and SoundOut.
  61. Meaningful Student Involvement: Guide to Inclusive School Change (2003) Bothell, WA: HumanLinks Foundation and SoundOut.
  62. Fletcher, A. (ed.) (Summer 2002) ServiceLine Journal 12 (3). Olympia, WA: Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  63. Firestarter Youth Empowerment Participant Guidebook (2001) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 40 pages.
  64. Firestarter Youth Empowerment Facilitator’s Guide (2001) Olympia, WA: Freechild Institute. 12 pages.
  65. Fletcher, A. (2001) Meaningful Student Involvement: An Idea Guide for Schools. Olympia, WA: Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  66. Fletcher, A. (Fall 2001). “When youth have a voice, school climate changes,” ServiceLine Journal 11 (3). Olympia, WA: Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  67. Fletcher, A. (Summer 2001) “Students have big say at new school,” ServiceLine Journal 11 (2). Olympia, WA: Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

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Different Ways to Change the World

There are a lot of ways to change the world. For hundreds of years, people young and old have been moving and striving and fighting to make a difference using these different ways.

This image illustrates different ways to change the world
These are different ways to change the world by Adam Fletcher.

Here are some different ways to change the world.

  • Change Communities—When people connect because of their identity, their locations, their cultures or beliefs, their work, their recreation or many other reasons, they are forming community. One of the ways to change the world is to change communities, including neighborhoods, institutions, faith-based groups, and other places. Here are some examples of people changing communities »
  • Change Actions—The ways we behave, including our actions, reactions, responses and motivations, can be changed in order to change the world. Whether addressed alone or in groups, the actions we take can impact ourselves and others, small groups or large ones, and so on. Here are some examples of people changing communities »
  • Change Individuals—No matter how a person identifies, including their age, race, gender, socio-economic status, education or otherwise, it takes individual people to change the world. When groups of people change, more of the world changes. As the entire world is affected, the whole world changes. Here are some examples of people changing individuals »
  • Change Issues—The topics that matter most to us are the issues we can change. Addressing a specific issue can take a lot of different kinds of actions, diverse numbers of people and various communities. However, it can also simply require the power of one person in one community taking one action to address one issue to change the world. Here are some examples of issues changing the world »

Deciding how to change the world isn’t exclusive to just one of those approaches; sometimes you have to use all four. Do you have thoughts, concerns or questions about these ways? Leave a comment below!

Once you’ve decided what to do, then get to work. You might like this guide I wrote »

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King County Superior Court Parent Youth Connections Seminar

The Parent-Youth Connections Seminar, or PYCS, was a project of the King County Superior Court with primary focus on early intervention for low-risk youth involved in the court system. Focused on providing fun, interactive seminars to low-risk youth offenders and a parent or other connected adult, Adam Fletcher facilitated the program throughout 2018 as a principal consultant with The Athena Group.

Together, youth and adults explore youth engagement, community empowerment and social change. They explore the skills, knowledge and actions needed to change their lives and the world around them.

Project Description

In this project, Adam designed and facilitated a 12-hour research-driven program designed to engage and empower families to change their lives. The Parent Youth Connections Seminar used intensive hands-on, interactive and focused activities, to engage parents and youth as they worked together to learn new knowledge, explore previous practices and grow new possibilities for their families. Over two-days, each session featured four workshops for learners of all ages including adult-only and youth-only groups.

The purpose of the Parent Youth Connections Seminar was to engage youth and caring adults in critical topics that would empower young people to make better decisions, be leaders in the future and change their lives in positive ways.

Workshop topics include:

  • Youth voice
  • Community involvement
  • Facing stereotypes
  • Changing communication
  • Establishing and maintaining power, trust and respect
  • Individual and Family Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Action planning and problem-solving everyday
  • Finding real adult support

During each seminar, Adam ensured that participants were actively involved, heard engaging stories, completed challenging activities, participated in powerful reflection, discovered useful resources for the future and more.

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