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Opportunity Youth: Disenfranchised Young People

Opportunity Youth: Disenfranchised Young People

Educational activities

Educational activities that cite youth empowerment as an aim include student-centered learning, popular education, and service learning. Free schools and youth-led mediaorganizations often state their intention to empower youth, as well as youth voice, community youth development, and youth leadership programs. Youth empowerment is studied by a variety of scholars including Shawn Ginwright, Henry Giroux, Barry Checkoway, Mike Males and Marc A. Zimmerman. Their research is highlighted by advocacy from notable activists such as William Upski Wimsatt, Alex Koroknay-Palicz, Salome Chasnoff and Adam Fletcher. Republic of Ireland In 2002 Comhairle na nÓg was established in each local authority area as part of the National Children's strategy. Comhairle na nÓg is Irish for Youth Council. These councils are encouraged to include the participation of young people from all walks of life and to tackle local issues affecting young people. It is run by the local county or city councils under the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. It is a recognized political organisation by the Irish Government. An extension of Comhairle na nÓg is the Comhairle na nÓg National Executive. The National Executive has one "youth councillor" from every Comhairle na nÓg and deal with issues important to young people. These issues are nominated by young people themselves at an AGM every two years. The Comhairle na nÓg National Executive has the opportunity to express there views in a form of a researched report, ad-campaign, conferences, seminars and to put those views to policy makers. Commonwealth The 53 member countries of the Commonwealth of Nations have all signed up to the Commonwealth Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment (2007–2015). The Plan of Action underpins the work of the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP). On the Commonwealth definition, "Young people are empowered when they acknowledge that they have or can create choices in life, are aware of the implications of those choices, make an informed decision freely, take action based on that decision and accept responsibility for the consequences of those actions. Empowering young people means creating and supporting the enabling conditions under which young people can act on their own behalf, and on their own terms, rather than at the direction of others." The Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment was developed by the Commonwealth Secretariat, working closely with Ministers of Youth and young people themselves. It encourages youth mainstreaming and contains thirteen action points for governments. The first of these is: “Develop and implement measures to promote the economic enfranchisement of young people” through a range of measures ranging from microcredit and entrepreneurship education through to reviewing macro-economic planning and trade regimes and how they affect young people. Other action points address gender equality, HIV/AIDS, education, the environment, youth participation in decisionmaking, and democracy and human rights. Page 26 of 72

Benefits of Empowerment When youth participate in established empowerment programs they see a variety of benefits. The practices of youth involvement and empowerment become embedded within the organizational culture and the community culture. Adults and organizations also benefit from empowerment programs. The both become more communicable and responsive to youth in the community, which leads to program improvements as well as increased participation from youth. Critiques of Youth Empowerment One major critique of youth empowerment is that most programs take a risk-focused approach. There has been a major emphasis on what is going wrong for youth in their lives rather than what goes right. This portrays young people as a problem that need to be fixed, and displays the process of development as a process of overcoming risk. This may deter youth from joining youth development programs. The risked-based model can obscure the fact that adolescence is a time when young people master skills and concepts. Page 27 of 72

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