I forgot to mention that these last two days I’ve been at the Washington Prevention Summit. The Summit, held annually for a long time, is a gathering of youth and adults who participate in alcohol and other drug prevention activities across the state. There is a hodgepodge of communities represented among the 700 participants here, including urban, rural, suburban and exurban youth who are hispanic, American Indian, black and white, with the wide majority of them being low and middle income youth. These are the “anti-” groups, standing against so mny things with built on largely prejudicial and biased data analyses * * *, dated slogans, utterly hip marketing campaigns *, and fun, well-meaning but hollow and ineffectual activities. Ah, such its so nice to attend a good conference every now and then.

In the name of transparency, let me be forthright and tell you that I’ve participated and facilitated these activities before. This is what 19 years of youth work has given me: the perspective to be able to say that, indeed, I’ve done wrong by young people. I’ve messed up. Alas, here I am to publicly genuflect, make sincere amends and propose a new way forward. My earlier post is one way. Another is the eight years I’ve spent advocating specifically for youth engagement throughout society, including schools. I have even keynoted at this very conference, where last year I keynoted [pdf] on meaningful youth involvement.

That’s why I’m excited that this year there are a variety of workshops that span a range of issues that matter to me, and that I think may change the face of this field. “How to work with those pesky adults,” “Using media to work with youth,” and my “Make it meaningful” workshop stand next to more traditional topics like, “Kickin’ ash,” “Marijuana truths,” and “Destination graduation.” I won’t claim this as a 100% success – but its hard not to see it as a step forward.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to http://commonaction.blogspot.com. Learn more at adamfletcher.net!
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I'm a writer, trainer, speaker, and consultant. My work focuses on helping schools, nonprofits, and government agencies become more effective at engaging people.

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