Youth at Conferences

This week I’m attending the CDC’s Weight of the Nation conference in Washington, DC. The first of it’s kind, this morning President Bill Clinton spoke and recieved an award for the development of his Alliance for a Healthier Generation. The rest of the conference is chock full of researchers, policy makers, and government officials promoting public health as a way to challenge obesity.

This event is exclusively for adults. The participants here are government-funded, like myself, as well as nonprofit, academic, and private sector. While I’m interested in the topics here, my head feels like a match head, flaring with issues related to the exclusion of young people from this event.

Some early questions, which I think apply to all conferences, include:
* What does the routine exclusion of 26% of the population tell that population? What does it tell the other 74%?
* How does the efficacy of youth-inclusive conferencing compare to non-youth inclusive conferencing, both on young people themselves and on the larger field represented at the conference?
* What are the factors motivating adults to routinely excluding young people from conferences?
* What transitions need to be made to motivate the mass meaningful inclusion of young people throughout academic, social, cultural, educational, political and other fields?

Ultimately this issue isn’t about conferences, as they are merely a mechanism for delivering messaging. And that gets to the larger issue at hand: we need to change the very way we communicate social change throughout society in order to relay the imperative necessity of meaningful youth involvement. Let’s start now at conferences like this.

— This is Adam Fletcher’s blog originally posted at For more see

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

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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