American Youth Policy Forum

Bringing Youth Voice to the Table

Posted on July 9, 2018

What does it mean to bring youth voice to the table? Recently, we are finding out about the power of youth voice, such as when Parkland students and youth across the country rallied together in Washington, D.C. at the March for Our Lives to end gun violence. Or when Miami, Florida youth Shatony River spoke about her own experiences as an African American youth experiencing gun violence daily in her community. Or when our own youth advocate Johnathan wrote a piece for Teen Vogue in the Fostered or Forgotten series that ran during National Foster Care Month about his educational experiences as a black male in the foster care system. We know these youth have powerful voices, make significant contributions to our communities, and are change makers.

For many young people, however, speaking up about moments of adversity is not easily done. For youth in the foster care or juvenile justice systems, speaking up is more than just challenging; often, they have been largely excluded from reform efforts while policymakers and other key stakeholders make decisions that will greatly impact their lives. Youth with experience in these systems are often unheard; they fall under the radar or are not provided the support and skills to speak to those in power and share their experiences.

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