Demystifying Youth Empowerment

Adults can really hone in on that student leadership with listening. I think it’s important that young people are heard because I feel that a lot of the time, teenagers in particular, all they want is to be heard. And they do it in multiple ways. We reach out and we speak out in so many different ways. Whether its action or through verbal communication or choices we make, our outfits, everything. We’re constantly speaking out and we just need people to hear us. I think when a teacher actually takes the time to say "I heard you and I’m going to act on it," that’s when that leadership comes through because people like myself who want help say, "she’s who I can go to. That’s my doorway. She heard me. I don’t have to scream anymore. I can simply speak and she will hear me."

– High school student

Sharing power with young people is the essence of facilitating youth empowerment. Adults can sometimes feel unnerved by the thought of letting go of our power over young people, especially in an institutional setting such as a school, where we are accountable by law to fulfil certain responsibilities. We may fear losing control; we may envision utter chaos and disorder.

As many of us have discovered, the reality is actually positive, more manageable, more constructive and far more inspiring than we may have imagined!