PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE


It's time for this nation to involve and empower every young person in America to make significant contributions to their own lives and to the revitalization of their schools, neighborhoods, and communities by joining with adults, as full partners, in action to create positive change. By now, most people have realized that the world is no longer the safe, stable and predictable place that it once was. There are ever increasing and incredible changes on our nation's future horizon. How do we provide the enrichment and empowerment youth will need to be contributors in solving important world and community problems?

Today's youth represent an enormous untapped resource. Their energy, enthusiasm, creativity, and insight offer critical solutions to many pressing problems. The inclusion of their voices in the solutions has not only been overlooked, but we also believe youth voices have been ignored.

My work has been dedicated for over 25 years to mobilize our youth locally, nationally and worldwide by channeling the power of this generation of young people to build healthy, safe, and sustainable youth-centered communities, in partnership with caring adults. I called this a Youth Empowerment Movement for urban, suburban and rural cities across America.

This movement encourages student voices to be incorporated into the school and community where systems and structures are needed that allow dialogue to emerge about how we learn, how we live, and the kind of place we wish our school community to become.

In a recent survey of youth, we found that 92 percent of youth believe that working on volunteer projects in their own community can help change the way adults see youth. 100 percent believe that working on such projects help youth from different communities see each other differently. However, when these same youth were asked if they believe that adults know "how you really feel" about your position in society, 82 percent said "no", regarding adults in general and 79 percent said "no" with respect to their teachers. Significantly 100 percent also responded "yes" when asked, if given the opportunity and the vehicle - like youth-adult partnerships - could youth of different backgrounds come together to solve some of the problems they share.

To realize this vision of empowering our youth with youth-adult partnerships that give youth a legitimate voice, we believe several things are critical. The first of these is a change in attitude and a change in heart about youth and what they can contribute. Related to this is a willingness to engage in the kind of youth-adult dialogue that involves genuine respect for the views of youth. We must recognize the need for a learning environment where the opportunities for learning are not defined by the boundaries of the past, but the limits of the imagination. There is a vast potential, largely untouched among our young people, that must be recognized and tapped. We must see with new eyes. When we do, we will find that what is waiting to be discovered is the richness of the future-a new possibility in our youth. The change must start with all of us and we believe the time is now.

We have encapsulated in our Kidzamerica Newsletter our powerful youth vision; Kidzamerica's progress in realizing this vision via Youth-Centered Community prototypes; and our Illinois Spring introduction to communities, as well as the numerous youth-centered forums we are doing as a catalyst for youth voices and community transformation. We are utilizing the positive aspects of the media: television, newsprint, and radio to highlight the good news about our young people. Some of these articles and television clips can be seen on our site. We welcome your input and support of this monumental vision.

For our future, our children,

Gary Goldman
President
Kidzamerica