I hope your week is greeting you with joy!
I have the honor of supporting multiple programs working towards a brighter future and happier youth, similar to the Safe Communities Task Force. One is the STASHA Peer Education program of Clark County.
One STASHA member described the program as, “We are a group of nonjudgmental youth ages 12-19 from all over Clark County. We work to prevent alcohol and other drug abuse amongst our peers in our communities. We educate ourselves so we can educate our peers. We use our unique strengths to help youth make healthy decisions and teach healthy lifestyles.”
During a recent meeting with STASHA I listened as they described how they define youth voice. For the benefit of all, they gave me permission to share their thoughts with the community so we can all aim to do better at involving young people as partners.
What does youth voice look or sound like?
- Saying things like, “How is this going for you?”
- Asking, “What are your thoughts?” without contradicting them or telling why our ideas aren’t good
- Not providing limitations or rules when brainstorming ideas
- Avoid saying, “That won’t work though.”
- Asking what we need to be successful
- Finding out what our goals are and how you can support us to achieve them
- Asking, “Hey, can you help me with this?” instead of just telling us what to do
- We like when people ask, “Tell me more.”
- “I believe in you.”
What does youth voice feel like?
- Moving energy around as a facilitator instead of holding it to yourself
- Dividing power
- Giving up control
- Lifting people up
What are some indicators that youth voice is effectively being honored?
- There is a process for everything: making decisions, informing us on issues, checking in with each other, reporting out and more
- Sharing the work
- Everyone has resources to be effective
- There is a shared platform
- Youth talk 80% of the time and adults only talk 20% of the time
- Talk with us not at us
- People look confident and appear open and safe
- Everyone is asked to and wants to participate
- People are respected and seen as important
- People’s hearts are full
- Safe and kind disagreement can happen
- Roles that are meaningful and valuable, not just doing small easy things (tokenism doesn’t happen)
STASHA is currently recruiting 13 new members from all walks of life and all areas of Clark County. Members ages 12-19 participate in various youth development projects including empowerment, voice, peer education, substance and drug abuse prevention, leadership skills, cultural competency and more. STASHA attends multiple conferences and field trips throughout the year and members commit to one-year terms while being allowed to serve until they age out. Meetings happen every first and third Monday from 6-8pm with additional optional sub-committee meetings as needed.
To learn more email Alaina.firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website for an application. Applications are due ASAP (listed as June 15th) https://www.clark.wa.gov/community-services/stasha-peer-education-program.
How about you reader? What are your thoughts on youth voice or more generally involving the voices of commonly disenfranchised populations? How can it be meaningful and what are the best ways to do it?
Above you’ll find a bonus graphic I put together from the Fall Training back in September. STASHA members were asked to share other ways of coping instead of using drugs or alcohol. Feel free to share with your networks!
Sending my best,
Christopher Belisle at SCTF