What would you consider the best way to inspire youth to become more active?
After more than 20 years experience working and teaching adults how to inspire youth, I have learned the best way to inspire youth to become more active throughout their lives is by making action relevant to their lives right now.
Instead of trying to get all young people interested and inspired in faraway places doing strange things, I think we need to connect young people within the issues and through the actions affecting them most right now. Their schools, towns, neighborhoods, community centers, governments, all these places need to have their doors thrown open and made relevant and meaningful to the lives of youth right now.
The issues that affect young people most, like education reform and democratic process and nonprofit programs, need to be made accessible to youth right now. Adults need to approach youth to find out what they think they need to be engaged in, too, the things that are closest to their hearts and minds right now. That’s the best way.
Is there a better way to inspire and inform youth than hoping a teacher down the line will mention world events?
Absolutely. The fact of the matter is that every young person is engaged right now. Every one. It might not be in ways adults recognize or approve of, but they are- video games, boy/girl friends, sports, graffiti, whatever. We can use those mediums to engage young people in social change. We can develop online opportunities, athletic activities, and date nights focused on changing the world. We can host graffiti competitions, dances, and carnival/parties focusing on changing the world.
These might seem trivial to adults, but these ways can attract young people to widen their engagement from being myopic or self-centered towards being socially-minded and justice oriented. There are plenty of ways young people can and should inspire other young people right now.
Let me know if you want to know anything more about what I shared.