In a room with too few representatives, a particularly loud voice standing above all others can sound brave and unique, especially when they represent an under-acknowledged majority. This is especially true in the youth movement today.

Just because a young person puts on a suit and discusses social change in a way that makes adults listen to them doesn’t make them heroic or a superhero. It makes them dressed right and well-versed.

In the same way, there are organizations and programs in the youth movement that are made heroic too. They are made out to represent youth particularly well or be the “right” whenever they talk. Among the 56 million youth in the United States right now though, adults do not lionize programs that make them uncomfortable or ideas that are too far from their acceptance.

The ones that are uplifted are generally satisfactory to adults who make decisions about funding, data usage in society, and social change leadership. Organizational heroism is also a danger to the youth movement.

The Freechild Institute works with partners to make room for young people who don’t please or appeal to them so easily, and emphasizes teaching young people about the society that affects them so much.

When everyone does this, only then can we stop setting us up to fail by positioning youth as heroes.

 

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Published by Adam

For almost two decades, Adam F. C. Fletcher has led international outreach focused on engaging people successfully. Working with thousands of youth-serving nonprofits, K-12 schools, government agencies, international NGOs and other organizations around the world, his work spans the fields of education, public health, economic development and social services, and includes professional development, public speaking, publishing, social media and more. He founded the Freechild Institute for Youth Engagement, SoundOut and CommonAction, as well as writing more than 50 publications and 500 articles. He has also established 150-plus community empowerment projects.

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