ILLINOIS MUNICIPAL REVIEW
The Magazine of the Municipalities
A STATEWIDE INITIATIVE:
Creating Youth-Adult Partnerships in Communities
Spring Introductory Workshops
By GARY GOLDMAN, President
Starting a National Youth Movement
In the Illinois Municipal Review, we talked about the enthusiasm that was generated, by a panel of young people and several Mayors, that I moderated at the Illinois Municipal League's Conference. The workshop was titled, Youth-Adult Partnerships: Creating Safe and Caring Communities.
The young people expressed their desire to have a voice in their communities and be more involved in working with the governmental leaders, as partners, in improving the quality of life where they lived. This opened the dialogue with the audience and by the end of the session over 100 mayors and other elected officials expressed interest in being part of Kidzamerica's Youth- Centered Community movement. We believe that Illinois communities can be the prototypes for "Youth-Centered Communities (YC2)" across the nation. Accordingly, we are planning to work with the Illinois Municipal League to introduce this model throughout Illinois with one day workshops to Mayors and other adult community leaders in the Chicagoland metro area and Central Illinois (Peoria). See details below to participate. A follow-up to this Intro will be an action planning workshop that will include youth-adult community teams.
It is recognized that our young people are our future and our most precious resource. Many young people express that they are living in a fearful world and find it increasingly difficult to dream of a bright and better future. They feel that adults do not listen to them and are rarely asked how the educational system or other public institutions could better serve or involve them. At the core of most social problems is this sense of disconnection between youth and their communities. For this reason, "everyday kids" are being invited to become a positive community resource and begin to grow confident in having their voice heard, volunteering in their communities, and impacting public policy (vote) as contributors to a more caring and safe community.
Momentum: Growing the Movement
To support the growth of this youth-adult partnership movement, our institute has organized and facilitated (completed and future) a series of televised Sister Community Youth-Centered Forums throughout Illinois. These forums in conjunction with our Statewide Spring Introductory Workshops in cooperation with Illinois Municipal League will serve to have Illinois take the lead as a model for the nation. Here is a list of our progress to date.
- South Chicago televised Youth-Centered Community Forum (WGN-TV national news)
- Presented at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Education Committee in Washington, DC to discuss our national youth movement
- Englewood (Chicago) and East Chicago, Indiana Youth-Community Forum
- City of Riverdale has committed to working toward being a Youth-Centered Community
- City of Belvidere Televised Sister Community Youth Forum (13 communities)
- District 16 (Rogers Park-Chicago, Skokie, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove): Youth-Forum
- District 24 (Cicero and Berwyn): Youth-Centered Community Forum
- Communities who have expressed interest in our youth-centered community model are Waukegan, Chicago Public Schools, and we have had dialogue with Youth Commissions of Buffalo Grove and Northbrook.
- Statewide Illinois Introductory Workshops (adults) with the Illinois Municipal League.
- Start training youth-adult community teams for Certified Youth-Centered Communities.
Illinois Introductory Workshops
Becoming a Certified Youth-Centered Community
The next step for our movement is to have a reach-out campaign via several Intro Workshops to communities of adult leaders throughout Illinois with municipal governments and other community partners such as school districts, park districts, library districts, religious organizations, community social service organizations, and governmental strategic partners. The two main topics will be Youth-Centered Communities (YC2) and Tomorrow's Leaders, a new curriculum by The Partnership for Local Government Education to increase interest and involvement in local government in Illinois.
There will be a Fall follow-up series of workshops with youth-adult teams from Illinois communities who will develop their own unique plan towards becoming a certified youth-centered community.