Last Wednesday evening, the Placer County Youth Commission organized a World Café to engage civic and community leaders in conversation about the meaningful things kids can do that does not involve parties with drugs and alcohol. Attended by over 60 adults and youth, the event was held at the Rocklin Community Center and supported by the Auburn Hip Hop Congress and the Coalition for Placer Youth.
The World Café is a process for facilitating open dialogue about important matters, such as youth issues. PCYC member Brandon Barry moderated the event. “Teen depression is more common and we need help with activities at school, employment opportunities and clean and sober places to hang out,” Barry explained to a room of adult participants during the “ice breaker” phase of the evening.
The program consisted of three sets of round table discussions, wherein adults and youth discussed the youth issues, needs and possible solutions. Interestingly the suggestions from youth evolved around the need to become engaged off-line.
When asked about favorite things to do at one table, not a single teen wrote down social media or texting or any on-line activity. According to these teens, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and texting was just a part of normal living - something you do to stay connected to your friends.
Later in round three of conversation, it became clear that the meaningful off-line connections are missing for youth. These teens really want to be a part of something fulfilling like learning a skill and getting a job, and finding a local volunteer opportunity to make a difference in your own neighborhood. Perhaps taking away some of the mystique of identifying and pursuing a career would be helpful, as many are not comfortable with how to go about it, or don’t believe that there is a place for them to make value-added contributions.
It is as if there is a sphere of youth influence limited to peer activities, like having fun (parties and events) and being a student.
Natalie Pohley is the Coordinator of the Auburn Hip Hop Congress. She observes that youth can have a profound impact on community when there is collaboration with adults to inspire one another and create a new vision. “We want to see on-going conversations between youth and adults,” Pohley said, “So we can all be empowered to engage youth in productive and meaningful ways. They are a tremendous, precious resource.”
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