Adultism is a primary assumption in western culture. Commonly defined as discrimination against youth, I believe adultism is also bias towards adults, and the addiction to adults. This reality is the basis for many laws, customs, and beliefs in our society, and slowly, steadily betrays both the adults and young people it affects most.

Adultism drives almost every aspect of a young person’s life, including the view of who young people are. It doesn’t just affect young people either; the effects of adultism last from the time a person is a baby until they die. Every time we interact with children or youth we are affected by adultism. They don’t have to be present, either, as adultism is reflected in our attitudes, opinions, and thoughts about childhood and adolescence.

The Freechild Project has been promoting awareness of adultism for more than a decade. Using the internet, training workshops, and publications, I have sought to teach, advocate, and activate a generation of young people and their adult allies to take action. It has worked, and today, more than ever before, the struggle against adultism and towards youth integration throughout society is underway. These are exciting times! Learn more about adultism at from this video or at


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Order FACING ADULTISM by Freechild founder Adam Fletcher at
Order FACING ADULTISM by Freechild founder Adam Fletcher!

2012 CommonAction Summary

With the last weekend of the year upon us, it gives our CommonAction family a chance to take a snapshot of our achievements in 2013, along with the young people, adult allies, and communities we serve! This includes the activities of CommonAction Consulting, The Freechild Project, SoundOut, and Heartspace, our websites, training, technical assistance, speaking, and more!

With the last weekend of the year upon us, it gives our CommonAction family a chance to take a snapshot of our achievements in 2013. Through our 10 projects with 14 client organizations nationwide, we served at least 10,000 young people and adults in more than 50 communities nationwide. We addressed 5,000 people in 10 conferences across the country too. This year there were more than 200 blog entries that reached more than 100,000 unique views. The Freechild Project website had almost 1,000,000 unique views, and the SoundOut website had almost 20,000 unique views. All totaled, our daily social media contacts reach almost 10,000 users. Our 25 publications were downloaded almost 15,000 times, and redistributed countless other times online.

Communities Served
Our work brought us across the country again this year, including Miami, Florida; Raleigh, North Carolina; New York City, New York; Burlington, Vermont; and Washington, DC. Here in our home state of Washington, we’ve served the cities of Bellevue, Cheney, Auburn, Bethel, Burien, Olympia, Richland, Seattle, College Place, Dayton,Kennewick, Finley, Prosser, Lippold, Kiona, Benton, Othello, Clarkston, Prosser, and Paterson.
Organizations Partnered
Organizations that we’ve partnered with include Service Learning Seattle; City of Cheney Parks and Recreation; Catalyst Miami; City of Bellevue Parks and Recreation; Eastern Washington University; King County Youth Development Executives; Community Schools Collaboration; North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center; Boys and Girls Club of Thurston County; Bethel School District, Schools Out Washington; the Institute for Democratic Education in America; City of Auburn Parks and Recreation; ESD 123, and ESD 113.
Projects Led
Major projects that we partnered on this year included Let’s Move, Cheney!‘s 5-Year Strategic Plan, the King County Youth Engagement Practitioners Cadre with SOAR and the Seattle Public Schools Service Learning Seattle Youth Engagement Zone. We also launched the Seattle Youth Media Camp with Social Moguls and Service Learning Seattle. Other projects included the SoundOut Program, launched in more than 20 schools nationwide. In Miami, Florida, our schools include Booker T. Washington High School and Miami Beach Senior High. Across Washington state, schools include New Horizons High School, College Place Middle School, Columbia Middle School, Dayton Middle School, Kennewick Park Middle School, Richland River’s Edge High School, Finley Middle School, Kennewick Highlands Middle School, Prosser Falls High School, Kiona-Benton Middle School, Othello McFarland Middle School, Clarkston Education Opportunity Center, North Franklin Middle School, Prosser Housel Middle School, and Paterson Middle School. 
Conferences Addressed
Eastern Washington University Building Healthy Communities Conference, North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center New Generations Iniatitive, Thurston County Youth Development Summit, Service Learning Seattle Conference, SOAR PIECES Conference, Bellevue Youth Involvement Conference, Washington State 21st Century Community Learning Centers Conference, WRPA Youth Section Youth Conference, ESD 105 21st Century Community Learning Centers Conference, Schools Out Washington
Internet Shared
This year I posted more than 200 blog entries that reached more than 100,000 unique views. The Freechild Project website had almost 1,000,000 unique views, and the SoundOut website had almost 20,000 unique views. All totaled, our daily social media contacts reach almost 10,000 users.
Publications Distributed 
Our 25 publications were downloaded almost 15,000 times, and redistributed countless other times online. We sold 40 copies of our SoundOut Curriculum.
This has been amazing year that was nothing short of magic! Look for even more in 2013…
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

Seattle Advanced Youth Engagement Workshop

Responding to demand from around Washington and across the United States, Service Learning SeattleCommonAction ConsultingSOARand IDEA are partnering to bring an advanced youth engagement workshop to Seattle this month. And its open to the public!

Are you a long-time youth worker, teacher, or adult ally who has used youth engagement to change your community? Join Adam Fletcher for a daylong session to reflect on what you know, gather new tools and strategies, and connect with other advanced practitioners from across the city. This workshop is recommended for people who’ve been intentionally using youth engagement strategies for at least three years.

Participants will experience hands-on activities focused on practical action. In a highly-interactive style, Adam will facilitate conversations, personal reflection, and other activities designed to dig deep into current practice, identify challenges, and create new solutions. Through substantial interaction and sharing professional experiences, participants will also create lasting relationships with each other.

Learning Goals

Participants will…
  • Identify their professional learning about youth engagement and critically reflect on successes and failures.
  • Examine their knowledge, assumptions, and practices with youth engagement using research-based tools.
  • Create strategic professional action plans in order to infuse practice into daily operations for greater efficacy.

About the Presenter

Adam Fletcher is an internationally-known, award-winning public speaker, facilitator, trainer, freelance writer, and consultant for organizations, and serves as a professional coach for individuals. Learn more about him at
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

Youth Engagement Practictioners Cadre 3 (2012-13)

The Youth Engagement Practitioners Cadre (YEPC) was a dynamic professional development program promoting organizational and community transformation. YEPC members were adults with three or more years of youth engagement experience who together form a learning community that met once monthly during the 2012-13 school year. Members developed community collaborations, shared expert knowledge and experiences, and deepened youth engagement practices in their settings and throughout King County, including Seattle and its suburbs.

Throughout the year, Cadre members engaged in projects to deepen, apply and share their knowledge, including individual presentations, job-shadowing, research papers, and public presentations. At the end of the year, Cadre members were recognized for their commitment to their professional development at a countywide youth engagement event. Cadre findings were compiled in a best practices manual for distribution.

The Cadre was managed and facilitated by Adam Fletcher, an internationally-recognized youth engagement expert; along with Teddy Wright, a seasoned youth engagement practitioner and expert facilitator; and Kyla Lackie, a community organizer and program manager for SOAR.

Sponsors included Seattle Public Schools’ Youth Engagement Zone, the Corporation for National and Community Service, SOAR, and CommonAction Consulting.


2013 Cadre Members & Organizations

  • Amy Bender, Northwest Center
  • Shawna Boggie, YouthForce at Boys & Girls Clubs of King County
  • Connie Chan, Vietnamese Friendship Association
  • Lauren Cooley, Treehouse
  • Devon de Leña, ArtsCorps
  • Karly Feria, Community Schools Collaboration
  • Chev Gary, YMCA
  • Sean Goode, YMCA
  • Cindy Irwin, Compass Housing Alliance
  • Lizzie Jackson, Nature Consortium
  • Cori Jaeger, Camp Ten Trees
  • Hana Kawai, All Girl Everything Ultimate Program
  • Kayla Mahnke, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Ruel Olanday, Vietnamese Friendship Association
  • Katie Panhorst, College Access Now
  • Sarah Ratermann Beahan Summer Search
  • Amy Salins, New Horizons Ministries
  • Grace Scarella, Nature Consortium
  • Becca Shim, NELA
  • Sarah Waugh, Catholic Community Services Youth Tutoring Program

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Activity: Examining Quadrants

Students in deliberation in a
CommonAction issue analysis activity.
Sometimes groups need a concrete method for analyzing the issues they’ve addressed in their goals. Every goal your organization may have has issues embedded in it, both spoken and unspoken. This activity is taken from the SoundOut Student Voice Curriculum. It can be used to peel the onion of any issue your group is addressing by providing an interactive format for group discussion and examination.
I frequently use different versions of the “Examining Quadrants” activity to facilitate groups as they come to understand different sides of the same issue.
In this activity, participants will conduct an issue analysis of one of the goals they’ve created. 
  1. Divide your large group into small groups of 3-4 participants. 
  2. Start by having participants identify a single issue they care about from your goals. Give them a few minutes to come to consensus.
  3. Ask each group to write that issue across the top of a sheet of flip chart paper. 
  4. Participants should separate that paper into four quadrants by drawing lines along the length and width of the paper.
  5. Give them 5 minutes to brainstorm what some of the positives to working further on this issue are, and writing those in the upper left-hand box. 
  6. Then, have them brainstorm what some of the negatives or challenges are, and take notes in the upper right-hand box. 
  7. Have participants use the lower left-hand box to brainstorm some of the ways this issue can bring people within the group and outside the group together. 
  8. Then use the lower right-hand box to write down some of the ways this issue can divide people. 
  9. Finally, using a different sheet of paper, ask participants to write down their conclusion about whether or not to pursue this issue, and several reasons that support their response. Each group should present their findings to the larger group, and open the floor to critical feedback.
When the group is finished ask participants to reflect as a whole group on what they’ve discovered. If you sense they need reflection prompts, you can use the guidelines of “What, So What, Now What”. If they are open to a wider conversation, open the floor and allow them to go in the direction they’re most inclined.

When they’re finished, you participants will have conducted an issue analysis that’s either in depth or superficial, or some combination therein. Any way it goes, this will give you an opening opportunity to explore more later.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

Presenting… Seattle Youth Media Camp!

Standing in the projection booth, Sekai stood still and simply scanned around the audience, ease and grace filling her expression. In the meantime, Young hustled and Sun wasn’t there. I was standing mid-audience and Austin was talking to the crowd gathered. Despite the apparent chaos, in that instant it all made sense and everything was awesome.

Understanding Why Youth Media Matters

Last Friday evening was the wrap of the first-ever Seattle Youth Media Camp, a partnership between Seattle Public Schools’s Service Learning Seattle program, Social Moguls, and CommonAction’s The Freechild Project that was funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service Seattle Youth Engagement Zone grant. A meeting of minds and priorities, it was a rarefied space where a convergence of the agendas of service learning, media literacy, STEM, CTE, film making, amounted to social change led by and with young people. You can read my earlier account here.

Making Media

At the end of two weeks of hustling, bustling learning and production, the students premiered a short film they created from the ground up, including conception, acting, directing, supporting, gaffing, laughing, critiquing, scoring, editing, and presenting. These students- who Seattle has grumbled at for more than 15 years- were powerhouses of hope, glaring their brightness into the hot summer evening above I-5.

Their film was witty and deft, making its point and moving on rapidly. Its presentation was relatively smooth, as I subbed in to take the audience taken through my usual paces of humor and progressive learning until I had them exactly where I wanted them. Nobody knew the depths of what was amiss behind the scenes until the very end, and that was okay. It turned out that despite my facilitators’ best intentions, we weren’t fully prepared to show the film in the auditorium where the 50+ audience members were comfortably seated! So we gracefully ushered them into the classroom where the camp edited the film and everything turned out excellently.


So much of our time- each of us, right now- is taken up worrying and waiting, wondering and hoping. In the meantime the fierce urgency of now is calling for our attention. The Seattle Youth Media Camp presentation reminded me that young people, those who are struggling with the future meeting the present right now, they don’t have the luxury of waiting. Now is their time. Honestly, that’s true for each of us right now, no matter what your age is.


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Seattle Youth Media Camp

Participants from the 2012 Seattle Youth Media Camp.

Last spring I started exploring the possibilities for Freechild to get involved with a youth-led program this summer. In April, I struck a partnership with Social Moguls, a program created and led by Sekai Senwosret, CommonAction’s vice-president. She connected me to What’s Good 206, a youth-led video program that created regular features for YouTube. I provided a training for the What’s Good 206 staff and crew, and we formed a partnership.

Shortly after making that connection, in May I negotiated a special expansion of the partnership CommonAction has with Seattle Public Schools. Working with their Service Learning Seattle coordinator, Lois Brewer, our three organizations birthed the concept of the 2012 Seattle Youth Media Camp. We decided to reinforce the mission of Cleveland High School, which is my favorite school in Seattle.

Focused on STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics), the school’s almost 700 students are almost all African American and Asian, with only a 4% white student population. Its the most obvious outcome of segregated public schools in Seattle. In spite of almost 100% of the school’s teachers meeting federal guidelines as “highly qualified”, the school consistently scores abysmally on standardized tests. The school is on Washington’s list of “persistently lowest-achieving schools.” The list goes on from there, with media smearing the school for not responding to injections of money or support from the district, state, and feds.

Because of all this, I decided Cleveland is an excellent location for our youth-led education approach. Working with college-age facilitators from Widescreen Eye Films, the Seattle Youth Media Camp is in week two of action. In our 10-day program at the school, we’re teaching students about critical media literacy, teambuilding, action planning, and film production. Service learning is weaved throughout the entirety of the program, along with self-identity, community connections, and more. The students are designing, writing, filming, editing, and presenting their own film to the community this Friday.

This represents a convergence of CommonAction’s main youth outreach programs, The Freechild Project and SoundOut. Presenting the changing roles of young people throughout society as an approach to programming in a school setting, the Seattle Youth Media Camp combines engaging youth in social change with practical classroom learning goals. We’re excited, honored, and hopeful about the future of this work, and I look forward to reporting more soon.

Adam’s Note: Much love and respect to all the folks involved with operating the 2012 Seattle Youth Media Camp, including Austin Williams, Alyssa Piraino, Sun Kim, Young Ho Kim, Sekai Senwosret, and Lois Brewer! Thanks for having me on board y’all!

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!