Youth engagement, partnership, empowerment

Youth support for policy change, program development and community planning is powerful and can be the catalyst to success: When kids speak up, adults listen.

PPS_transit

Youth-led campaigns, such as the #YouthPass4All campaign in Portland have a big impact and show how the voice of youth helps to change policies that affect them. OPAL Environmental Justice’s Youth Environmental Justice Alliance (YEJA) develops low-income youth and youth of color leaders through political education, campaign organizing, and skill-building to address issues of Environmental Justice. The leadership program creates a space for marginalized youth to take action on the issues that directly impact them and their communities.

Youth Pass provides a free transit pass to high school students in lieu of yellow bus service, but of course an all-access transit pass does so much more for high schoolers — from extracurricular activities to life-supporting jobs. Currently, Youth Pass only serves Portland Public Schools high school students; YEJA’s report on the need for Youth Pass programs in all of Portland features new data on student transportation needs and transit barriers in East Portland, and startling statistics including:

  • 41% of the students at David Douglas High School have missed class due to missing the school bus and not having other transportation.
  • 70% of students at Parkrose said having a free transit pass would make it easier for them to attend school.

Over the summer, OPAL ran a youth training program, Serve the People, with robust curriculum on environmental justice, transit justice and a variety of other topics relevant to training emerging youth leaders to lead their peers when they head back to school.

As we all head back into the school year, it will serve us well to consider ways to incorporate youth perspectives, voices, and leadership into our work. Below are more opportunities coming up — learn more and get plugged in.

August 17 – Participate in the #MoveEquity tweetchat to discuss youth organizing and leadership in low-income communities and communities of color, and engaging youth in getting to school safely.
Wednesday, August 17, 2016 – 10:00-11:00am PT

August 24 – Join the National Partnership’s webinar and learn about youth engagement at the local, regional and state level, how kids of all ages are influencing their community in positive ways, and how your community can engage youth, participate in meaningful dialog, and share ideas with decision makers and community members to make a difference for safety in their community.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016 – 10:00-11:00am PT
More information and registration

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