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Opportunity Youth: Disenfranchised Young People

Opportunity Youth: Disenfranchised Young People

Participation," this

Participation," this spectrum identifies eight types of youth participation ranging from tokenism and manipulation to engaging youth as partners. Adam Fletcher of the Freechild Project has identified a range of youth participation in social change through his "Cycle of Engagement". David Driskell, another UN-affiliated researcher, has identified several "steps" towards youth participation, while Daniel Ho-Sang has analyzed models according to a horizontal continuum. Indigenous American Communities' Way of Learning In some Indigenous communities of the Americas, children are seen as legitimate participants and have access to learn in order to make an important impact in their community. Their high involvement in family endeavors allow them to observe and experience skills they will need as community members. Children are able to learn because they have the chance to collaborate with everyone in the community. They also are eager to participate and take initiative to engage in family and community events At different ages, children are performing a variety of tasks in their community. In the Yucatec Mayan community of Mexico, regardless of age, every member can be seen participating in the daily endeavors of their family in some form. At the age of 18 months, Mari is the youngest child in her family. Mari imitates her mother by using a leaf to scrub the stool like her mother. Mari’s mother pleasantly watcher her while she continues to clean the furniture. Although she is very young, her mother welcomes her eagerness to participate in the family’s daily endeavors. Indigenous children of San Pedro engage in activities like play, lessons, work and freestanding conversation, with family and community members of different ages. Children from the age of two to three year olds are integrated in activities with their elders. For example, Many two to three year olds do errands around the community and sell fruit or other goods. This gives children greater accessibility to the endeavors of their elders and greater chances to learn useful skills. Around three years old, Indigenous Mayan children from San Pedro, Guatemala are involved in mature-work such as farming, cooking, and caregiving. At this age they are observing what others are doing around them, but around five-years old they begin to directly help out such as running errands on their own. The Mayan children are able to learn by being highly involved in the adults’ work. In the community of Chillihuani in the high Peruvian Andes, at an early age, children around the age of four years old contribute to their family by running errands and helping take care of younger siblings. Four year old Victor contributes to his family by running errands and helping take care of his two younger sisters by bringing his mother's diapers, going outside to dust small blankets, and holding their bottles while his sisters are drinking milk. This allows children to observe, listen and learn so that they can be able to meaningfully contribute to these endeavors as they get older. Page 38 of 72

As the children become older, they are able to take on more responsibilities. Also, as their skills become more advanced, children are able to take initiative in different tasks. In Guadalajara, Mexico, children around nine to ten-years old were reported regularly to take the initiative and contribute to family household works and activities like cleaning the house. This initiation allows children to be more involved in their community. For example, In Yucatan, Mexico, children as young as fifteen-year-old will take over his father’s field to cultivate which helps out their family immensely. Children take initiative out of interest and participate as much as they can. In an experiment, siblings of Mexican- heritage with Indigenous history were invited to build a toy together. They were able to learn how to build the toy by working together, considering others ideas, and combining their methods. This study shows that being part of the community at an early age allows them to learn important values such as involvement and contribution which they carry out in their own activities. In many Indigenous American communities, children are considered as legitimate contributing participants. Children are integrated in the daily endeavors of the family and community. They have greater access to various opportunities to observe and learn so that they can make a meaningful impact in their family and community. Page 39 of 72

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