Give young people meaningful roles

By Azugbene Solomon

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“Having a voice” means more than making a sound when you sing or shout. The ways people express ideas, energy, and insights make each person unique. Helping young people find their voices is one of the best ways to help them be a positive force in their families, schools, clubs, teams, or neighborhoods. This is good for them—and for your community. Young people have a lot more to contribute when their opinions are respected and their talents are tapped. Listen closely to the opinions of young people around you, and you’ll all benefit.

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Research shows when young people have useful roles in their community they feel good about themselves and their future, do better in school, and get into less trouble. Everyone deserves to have their voice heard and appreciated. Only 26 percent of young people, ages 11–18, report that they’ve been given useful roles in their community, according to Search Institute surveys. Allow all young people to have a voice in issues and decisions at home, school, and in the community.

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Building this asset means valuing young people’s talents, skills, interests, and opinions. It means setting aside the belief that adults know more than the younger generation. When you see children and youth as valuable resources, they feel more empowered to contribute to the community, and at school, and home in meaningful, thoughtful ways.

This post originally appeared on Youtherie