The Freechild Project Youth Action Guide

The Freechild Project Youth Action Guide is CommonAction’s latest publication. A 50-page publication created for our training promoting youth changing the world, this guide is FREE online right now! It’s packed with quick, easy reading that can help young people or adults think about how to find what needs to change, create programs to make that change happen, and promote Youth Action throughout our communities.
You can read the book free here.

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Contact us for any additional information by calling (360)489-9680 or emailing info@commonaction.org.

Coming May 2013: "Inconvenient Youth" by Adam Fletcher

CommonAction is proud to announce
Coming May 2013
“Inconvenient Youth: A Guide to Discrimination Against Young People” 
by Adam Fletcher, founder of The Freechild Project.

Contact us for information, including author booking and appearances, orders, and more.
Phone (360) 489-9680
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Freechild Project Youth-Driven Programming Guide

This guide is an introduction to youth-driven programming for nonprofits, government agencies, and other youth-serving organizations. The booklet gives a definition and compares approaches, and then provides planning tools, evaluations and assessments, and more. It includes the Ladder of Youth Voice, rubrics for assessing youth-driven programming, and links to examples and resources that readers can explore on their own.

ORDER YOUR COPY NOW.

Elsewhere Online

The MOST IMPORTANT Youth Engagement Books

Every few years I revisit my list of the most important books related to youth engagement, youth voice, youth involvement, and youth empowerment. Following is the November 2010 version.

 


15 Points to Successfully Involving Youth in Decision-Making

In 2007 Youth On Board hired me to rewrite 14 Points to Successfully Involving Youth in Decision-Making with them. This version of the essential guide to youth involvement highlights the essential elements of successful project planning, this manual provides stories, hints, and tools to make your project successful. Order it from www.youthonboard.org

Adults as Allies in Action

The Students Commission in Canada published Adults as Allies in Action. A well-designed introduction for adults, this publication gives basic information and ideas for adults to learn how to better support young people throughout society. Download it free at http://www.tgmag.ca/aorg/pdf/alliesFINAL_e_web.pdf

Adults as Allies

Barry Checkoway is a renown sociologist at the University of Michigan. His publication for the WK Kellogg Foundation, Adults as Allies, was the only of its kind when it was originally published. It highlights the role of adults in youth involvement by posing questions, offering activities, and providing stories that highlight effective intergenerational interaction. This publication seems to have disappeared from the Internet; share a URL with me if you find one please?

At the Table: Making the case for Youth in Decision-Making

In the early 2000s The Innovation Center and National 4-H released a pivotal study called At the Table: Making the case for Youth in Decision-Making. Their publication called At the Table: Making the case for Youth in Decision-Making: Research Highlights from a Study on the impacts of Youth on Adults and Organizations is essential reading for anyone who wants to make the case. You can download in at www.theinnovationcenter.org

Beyond Resistance! Youth Activism and Community Change

Beyond Resistance! Youth Activism and Community Change was edited by Shawn Ginwright, Pedro Noguera, and Julio Cammarota. Academics study the current implementations of Youth Voice activities across the country and their effects on communities, policy, and more. Order from your local bookstore.

Building Community: A Tool Kit for Youth and Adults in Charting Assets and Creating Change

Building Community: A Tool Kit for Youth and Adults in Charting Assets and Creating Change was published by The Innovation Center. This publication makes it possible for individuals and groups everywhere to bring an inclusive, asset-based approach to youth involvement in their community. Filled with detailed information and case studies, it gives users what they need to create youth adult partnerships and lasting community development. You can order it at www.theinnovationcenter.org

Children’s Participation in Sustainable Development

Sociologist Roger Hart’s wrote the first substantive publication on youth involvement for UNESCO called Children’s Participation in Sustainable Development. A new edition of Hart’s classic, this book is a central text for anyone interested in studying youth involvement in communities. It introduces organizing principles, successful models, practical techniques and resources for involving children in a variety of social projects. You can order it at www.earthscan.co.uk

Creating Youth/Adult Partnerships

The Innovation Center and National 4-H Council worked together on a few publications, including the important Creating Youth/Adult Partnerships. For those just beginning to explore youth-adult partnerships as a strategy for community and organization building, this book offers a step-by-step tools to prepare youth and adults to work as a team. Designed with even the most novice trainer in mind, this curriculum provides activities that challenge preconceptions, explore benefits, assess readiness and build trust to strengthen their work in partnership. Order it at www.theinnovationcenter.org

The Declaration of Accountability on the Ethical Engagement of Young People and Adults in Canadian Organizations

The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada created a vital document when they published The Declaration of Accountability on the Ethical Engagement of Young People and Adults in Canadian Organizations. It shares a wide-ranging perspective of youth involvement, calling for organizations and communities to see beyond past activities and to identify and practice powerful ethical approaches to engaging youth. Despite the reference to Canadian organizations, this document is useful communities around the world. You can download it from www.fncaringsociety.com/projects/ethicalYouthEngagement.html

The Evolving Capacities of the Child

The Evolving Capacities of the Child by Gerison Lansdown is another UN imprint that I believe is absolutely vital to understanding the present and future of young people. The principle behind recognizing the ‘evolving capacities’ of the child recognizes that as young people acquire enhanced competencies, there is a diminishing need for protection and a greater capacity to take responsibility for decisions affecting their lives. The purpose of this publication is to open the discussion and promote debate to achieve a better understanding of how children can be protected, in accordance with their evolving capacities, and also provided with opportunities to participate in the fulfillment of their rights. A necessary read for all youth involvement practitioners. You can download it at www.unicef-icdc.org/publications/pdf/evolving-eng.pdf

Future 500: Youth Organizing and Activism in the United States

The gang of Jee Kim, Mathilda de Dios, Pablo Caraballo, et al was led by William Wimsatt to write Future 500: Youth Organizing and Activism in the United States. This is the most comprehensive detailing of youth-led organizing ever published. The book details hundreds of organizations across the U.S., identifying them by location, issue-orientation, and constituency. You can order it from your local bookstore.

Youth Voice in Service Learning

The Education Commission of the States’ Initiative wrote a brief summary called Integrating Youth Voice in Service Learning. It highlights the variety of ways Youth Voice can find traction when young people combine community service with state learning goals. You can download it online from http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/23/67/2367.htm

Making Space/Making Change: Profiles of Youth-Led and Youth-Driven Organizations

The Young Wisdom Project of the Movement Strategy Center wrote an essential publication with Making Space/Making Change: Profiles of Youth-Led and Youth-Driven Organizations. It is a powerful tool highlighting the successes and challenges of operating authentic Youth Voice programs. There are in-depth features on six programs across the nation, providing vital details and tips. You can learn more about it at www.freechild.org/ReadingList/reviews/MSMC.htm

Maximum Youth Involvement: The Complete Gameplan for Community Change

Before their were national organizations promoting youth involvement, there was Wendy Schaetzel Lesko. Wendy, a friend of The Freechild Project’s, published Maximum Youth Involvement: The Complete Gameplan for Community Change. This manual answers nearly 100 questions on how adults and organizations can support young people as equal partners and effective advocates in changing community norms and policies plus a 40-page Appendix with reproducible checklists and interactive skill-building activities. You can order it from www.youthactivismproject.org

Meaningful Student Involvement Guide to Students as Partners in School Change

My Meaningful Student Involvement Guide to Students as Partners in School Change was written to provide the first comprehensive guide to integrating student voice throughout the education system. It provides a concise introduction for educators on how to empower student voice in schools by engaging students as decision-makers, and more. Includes useful theoretical models, practical considerations, and valuable examples from across the United States. You can download it at www.soundout.org/MSIGuide.pdf

Measuring the Magic: Evaluating and Researching Young People’s Participation in Public Decision-Making

Perpetua Kirby published a vital report for the Carnegie Trust in the UK with Measuring the Magic: Evaluating and Researching Young People’s Participation in Public Decision-Making. This report examines the different ways in which involving young people in decision – making could be measured and evaluated. It recommends a number of different ways of effectively evaluating work in a variety of settings. You can download it at www.carnegieuktrust.org.uk/files/2643_MeasuretheMagic_001.pdf

The Power of an Untapped Resource: Exploring Youth Representation on Your Board or Committee

The Youth Adult Partnerships Project in Alaska wrote The Power of an Untapped Resource: Exploring Youth Representation on Your Board or Committee. This handbook was created by youth for boards or committees interested in including young people. It lists basic criteria for creating an effective board that includes youth representation, including: how to prepare boards for youth involvement; create a position; choose representatives; address legal issues; recruit youth; and educate youth members. You can download it at www.aasb.org/PDF’s/AASBPubs/HansB_bklt.pdf

Promoting Children’s Participation in Democratic Decision-Making

Promoting Children’s Participation in Democratic Decision-Making was written by Gerison Lansdown. This publication makes the case for a commitment to respecting children’s rights to be heard and the need to consolidate and learn from existing practice. It draws on much of the already published research and thinking in the field and on a wide range of international initiatives. In so doing, it seeks to provide practical guidance on the lessons learned to date in working with children as partners. It is a contribution to the development of tools for those who see children ‘s rights to be heard as a means of promoting and protecting their other rights. You can download it at www.asylumsupport.info/publications/unicef/democratic.pdf

Re-focusing the Lens: Assessing the Challenge of Youth Involvement in Public Policy

Re-focusing the Lens: Assessing the Challenge of Youth Involvement in Public Policy was a powerfully conclusive study by Phillip Haid, Elder C. Marques and Jon Brown. This short paper explores successful models of youth participation in policy development and identifies barriers to meaningful youth involvement in the policy process, based on case studies. Download at www.iog.ca/publications/lens.pdf

SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum

My SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum was written as the first collection of lesson plans for classroom teachers focused on engaging student voice ever published. Includes a variety of hands-on, project-based activities that teach students about learning, the education system, school reform, and how students can be meaningfully involved in all three! You can order it from www.soundout.org

Taking the Initiative: Promoting Young People’s Involvement in Public Decision Making: International Reports

Taking the Initiative: Promoting Young People’s Involvement in Public Decision Making: International Reports was written by the Carnegie Young People Initiative in the UK. This report provides insights into the policy and administrative infrastructure that makes it possible for governments to conceptualize and implement program for young people. It underscores the importance of youth participation in informing policy and programming for young people. Countries featured in the report are Barbados, Uganda, Lithuania, Portugal, Denmark, South Africa and Germany. Download at
www.carnegieuktrust.org.uk/cypi/publications/taking_the_initiative

Younger Voices, Stronger Choices: Promise Project’s Guide to Forming Youth/Adult Partnerships

Younger Voices, Stronger Choices: Promise Project’s Guide to Forming Youth/Adult Partnerships by Michael McLarney and Loring Leifer was one of the first nationally available publications on youth involvement. An important primer on involving youth in meaningful ways, co-written by a youth and an adult. This is the foundational text for many other books on youth involvement. Order from your local bookstore.

Youth in Decision-Making: A Study on The Impacts of Youth on Adults and Organizations

Shepherd Zeldin, Annette Kusgen-McDaniel, and Dimitri Topitzes worked on a number of important studies together, and wrote Youth in Decision-Making: A Study on The Impacts of Youth on Adults and Organizations. This report discusses the impacts young people have on adults and organizations when they are involved in significant decision-making roles. It will be of interest to policy-makers and practitioners, and concludes by commenting on the conditions that are needed to allow organizations to include more youth in their decision-making processes. Find it online.

Youth Participation and Community Change

Youth Participation and Community Change edited by Barry Checkoway and Lorraine Gutierrez is a forum where academics, students, and organizational leaders from across the U.S. explore current research and action happening in communities around the country. It includes a number of examples and wonderful descriptions from a variety of programs, and you can order it from your local bookstore.

The Youth Voices in Community Design Handbook

The Youth Voices in Community Design Handbook was printed by the California Center for Civic Engagement and Youth Development. This is a spectacular, free how-to guide on getting youth involved in local policy making and community planning. The handbook provides a step-by-step guide to Youth Voice and is supported by an extensive online library of articles and activities. Download at http://www.participation.ro/resources/library/voices_handbook1.pdf/view

Youth Voice: A Guide for Engaging Youth in Leadership and Decision-Making in Service-Learning Programs

Jonna Justinianno and Cynthia Scherer wrote Youth Voice: A Guide for Engaging Youth in Leadership and Decision-Making in Service-Learning Programs for the Points of Light Foundation and the Corporation for National Service. The purpose of this guide is to provide service learning practitioners with basic information on Youth Voice – how to engage youth in leadership and decision-making in programs. This guide highlights what youth voice is, why it is important and models of Youth Voice that have been implemented by service learning practitioners. Download it at
www.kidsforcommunity.org/pdf/tools/youthguide.pdf

The Child Rights Information Network published an issue of their newspaper focused on Children and Young People’s Participation. It reviews how far children and young people’s participation has progressed, through a series of international overviews and thematic case studies. The overviews present the state of youth involvement around the world, examine key barriers to effective participation and suggest specific recommendations, based on experience, to improve future practice. Case studies describe examples of children’s participation in a variety of contexts. You can download it at
www.crin.org/docs/resources/publications/crinvol16e.pdf

There are hundreds more publications available on youth involvement, youth voice, youth engagement, and youth empowerment. What would you add to this list?


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"Take Action" Publications

In 2008 and 2009 I consulted Capstone Press on a series of publications. The series, called Take Action!, was written by four different authors for middle school students, and is marketed to libraries across the country.
You can find free online previews on Google Books, and order the publications from Capstone Press.
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Top 10 Youth Voice Publications

There is a lot of chatter out there about listening to youth, engaging young people, and promoting meaningful youth involvement. But sometimes it is hard to find resources that value what you think and feel as someone committed to young people and social change.


Following are the Top 10 Youth Voice publications I have found through December 2006. They come from across the spectrum of youth voice, and each values diversity, transformation, and community. I have included a separate list of my own publications at the bottom for your use, and indicates free download. I’ll update this list again soon – Let me know what you think I should add!

10 Creating Better Cities With Children and Youth by David Driskell. This UNESCO publications provides examples and activities that can help young people become engaged throughout their communities. It gives youth participation a global perspective by contextualizing young peoples’ engagement within an international movement for citizen engagement. The tools within this booklet cover a variety of topics, and can be useful across the board.

9 Youth Voices in Community Design Handbook by The California Center for Civic Engagement and Youth Development. This is a spectacular, free how-to guide on getting youth involved in local policy making and community planning. While its really specific to community planning, this handbook provides a step-by-step guide to youth engagement and is supported by an extensive online library of articles and activities that can be used by any

youth voice group.

8 Occasional Paper No. 01: An Emerging Model for Working with Youth: Community Organizing + Youth Development = Youth Organizing by LISTEN, Inc. This paper would blow away the populist youth voice “effort” if people actually read it. It explores the influences of community organizing and youth development on youth organizing; describes a continuum that identifies different levels and models of youth engagement; and outlines the fundamentals of youth organizing: its processes, guiding principles, practices and impacts.

7 Global Uprising: Confronting the Tyrannies of the 21st Century by N. Welton and L. Wolf. Another book to wake up the so-called “youth voice movement”. This book moved my insides by sharing the stories of the new global youth movement for peace and justice. People are telling their own stories and sharing their own work through Told through personal narratives, poster art, poetry, photographs, and interviews with new and seasoned activists. Global Uprising captures the spirit of youth activism and honors young people’s power to effect serious change.

6 Best Practices in Youth Philanthropy by Pam Garza and Pam Stevens for the Coalition of Community Foundations for Youth. This is the mother of all youth voice resources, in that it provides everything that anyone needs to know about youth voice in this particular area. It should be a blueprint for other books to follow.

5 What Works in Youth Participation? Case Studies from around the world by Sylvia Golombeck. This report asks a variety of interesting questions that contextualize youth voice in the global setting. By reaching across interest areas, this shares “what works” in many different areas, in many different ways. It is also written by authors of different ages – something most publications can’t claim.

4 Future 500: Youth Organizing and Activism in the United States by J. Kim, M. de Dios, P. Caraballo, et al. Features analysis of the modern youth movement, interviews with 25 young people changing the world, and profiles of 500 of the most important youth-led organizations across the country. It also includes statistics on youth organizations, listings of youth-friendly foundations and national networks, and amazing art from the movement.

3 Knock-Your-Socks-Off: Training Teens to be Successful Activists by Wendy Lesko. A great introduction to training for youth voice. Comprehensive, easy, and approachable in a way that a lot of manuals dream of being.

2 15 Points to Successfully Involving Youth on Boards by Youth on Board. This is the essential guide to youth involvement in decision-making for organizations and individuals. Focuses on YoB’s popular method for youth participation, giving needed tips and success stories throughout. Includes a rationale, steps to follow, and assessments for your organization.

1 Youth Voice Begins With You! by Jennifer Kurkoski, Karla Markendorf And Norma Straw for the Washington Youth Voice Project. Provides a far-reaching introduction to youth voice & involvement, including useful tips and trainings. This is the original framework that a lot of organizations adapted in their own programs and publications. Unfortunately, the Washington Youth Voice Project is defunct, and this manual is now unavailable – but do not despair! The Freechild Project worked with our local partners to recreate this fine work as the Washington Youth Voice Handbook!

HONORABLE MENTIONS


Younger Voices, Stronger Choices: Promise Project’s Guide to Forming Youth/Adult Partnerships by Michael McLarney and Loring Leifer. An old-school original that it seems like everyone has borrowed from. This book is an important primer on youth participation in meaningful ways. This is the foundational text for many other books on youth involvement.


Building Community: A Tool Kit for Youth and Adults in Charting Assets and Creating Change by The Innovation Center. This publication incorporates ideas and tools from a variety of sources to make it possible for individuals and groups everywhere to bring an inclusive, asset-based approach to creating positive change in their community. Filled with detailed information and case studies, it gives users what they need to create youth adult partnerships and lasting community youth development.


Youth as Equal Partners by Wendy Lesko and Adam Kendall for United Way of Amerca. This is a comprehensive, easy-to-use manual that provides a hyper-useful introduction to youth voice and involvement.


Bomb the Suburbs by William Upski Wimsatt. This book served as a manifesto and call-to-arms for my generation of youth activists who live in cities. The author is now a renown thinker of this generation, and this, his booming clarion call, sounds the charge with analysis, weaponry, and empowerment for today’s youth activists.


The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How To Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education by Grace Llewelyn. “Your life, time, and brain should belong to you, not to an institution.” Another dangerous wake-up call for youth voice advocates. This book is a “how-to” on youth voice for young people who want control over their own lives. Details all the issues surrounding learning from life instead of schools, including the legal implications, dealing with adults and learning once outside school. The final section includes stories about what people have done with their lives after they bail out of school.


The Abandoned Generation: Democracy Beyond the Culture of Fear by Henry Giroux. Offers a vital and critical critique of the US political and popular culture ‘s influence on the lives of young people. In this controversial book, Giroux argues that there’s a war on in the US these days against young people.


More Than Service: Philadelphia Students Join a Union to Improve Their Schools by What Kids Can Do. This is the story of PSU, a group of students working citywide to promote a youth-created, youth-driven agenda for school and community improvement.


Youth Rights Library by NYRA by collection of research-based and opinion papers by authors around the world on various topics included in youth rights.


Student Voices Count: A Student-Led Evaluation of High Schools in Oakland. by REAL HARD. This is smooth. In 2003, students in Kids First Oakland’s REAL HARD program conducted their own youth voice in schools project, designing and collecting 1,000 report card surveys evaluating teaching, counseling, school safety and facilities at three Oakland high schools. The students compiled their findings, analyzed the results, and made concrete recommendations to improve the schools in this exciting, comprehensive report.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Not Adultism – Corporal Punishment

Spanking, slapping, smacking, pulling ears, pinching, shaking…

Hitting with rulers, belts, wooden spoons, extension cords, slippers, hairbrushes, pins, sticks, whips, rubber hoses, flyswatters, wire hangers, stones, bats, canes, or paddles…

Being forced to stand for a long period; hold an uncomfortable position; stand motionless; kneel on rice, corn, floor grates, pencils or stones; retain body wastes; perform strenuous exersize; or ingest soap, hot sauce, or lemon juice…

This is not adultism – its corporal punishment. In my experience I have heard a lot of people misuse the term adultism, applying it to any instant where children or youth have been discriminated against because of their age. It is true that because children and youth are young they are routinely subjected to physical punishment – but in this case, adultism is a root among many, and the brutal weed that grows is child abuse in the form of corporal punishment. I think its important to call a dog a dog – and that is what physically, mentally, or emotionally abusing children in the name of discipline or punishment is. Not adultism – corporal punishment.

Read my review of Eliminating Corporal Punishment here.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!

Spreading the Word

One of the things that amazes me is the spreading awareness of my work. Despite my lackadaisical efforts at promoting myself, friends from across the U.S. and around the world continuously let me know they saw my writing, they heard my ideas or they ran into someone running a curriculum or program I wrote.

At the risk of appearing too self-promoting, here are some of the citations I’ve collected:

What particularly excites me is that this kind of usage is resultant from 5 years work in which I traveled nationwide and internationally to promote the message of youth voice and meaningful student involvement. The publications that have cited me have included my writing focused on cooperative games and volunteerism, too, which I have really liked writing.

The question for me is how I can assist others in promoting their messages, too. The Freechild Project listserve has been a fair tool for spreading international messages about youth voice; is there another avenue that can be as useful?

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Good Reading from the 1970s

More than 30 years ago there was a growing national effort to promote youth empowerment, youth participation and youth rights. For some reason we’ve forgot about that movement, like it never existed – or failed so miserably we don’t mention it, like an ugly stepchild. Here are several books from the 1970s that I recommend for anyone interested in gleaning some wisdom from “back in the day”…

Student Power, Participation and Revolution (1970) John and Susan Erlich – This book is a collection of essays by 1960s student activists from high schools and colleges across the U.S. These are the words that inspired youth action across the country.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970) Paulo Freire – A complex examination of education by a man whose process of teaching rural Brazilians revolutionized that country forever. Freire went on to explore these concepts in a lot of different concepts, often challenging this book – but never was he as powerful, assertive and direct as he was in this book.

Conspiracy of the Young (1971) Paul Lauter and Florence Howe – Looking back on their experience working with young people throughout the 1960s, Lauter and Howe propose several powerful, logical and meaningful ways society can treat youth differently.

The Geranium on the Windowsill Just Died but the Teacher You Went Right On (1971) Albert Cullum – I have avoided adding the fiction books that continue to inspire me from back then – except this one. The author’s dedication says it all: “Dedicated to all those grownups who, as children, died in the arms of compulsory education.” Is anyone out there strong enough to say this today?

Will the Real Teacher Please Stand Up? A Primer in Humanistic Education (1972) Mary Greer and Bonnie Rubinstein – A nice collection of essays and drawings by children and youth along with activities adults can use in classes, programs and other settings. Everything in here challenges the historic relationship between youth and adults, and almost all what is in here inspires me.

Escape from Childhood (1974) John Holt – Holt’s rhetoric continues to inspire new generations of youth rights activists as he expounds on alternatives to the belittling, demeaning and degrading treatment of children and youth throughout American society. Awesome if you are looking for inspiration.

Student Power: Practice and Promise (1975) Glorianne Wittes, Joan Chesler and Dale Crawford – The authors of this book examine and compare six schools to each other. From radical private schools to public alternatives to inner-city megaschools, they offer powerful reflections and share important lessons that seem to have been lost.

I Am Not a Short Adult! Getting Good at Being a Kid (1977) Marilyn Burns – I am leery of books where adults tell young people how to act. This one is almost 100% different. In a revelatory way the author pulls the curtain back on adult society and tells the truth about childhood – to children themselves. Good call.

There are several other books, too, as well as many written before the 70s. Compulsory Mis-Education and the Community of Scholars was published in 1964, and still tells truths about the education system that are powerful. That’s just one of many. Feel free to share your favorite book from back then…

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!