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How can young people contribute to their neighborhoods, and work in their community with adults?

The first step for adults when working with a young person is to  take a step back and ask them what they want in their community and what they want to see happen. Help them figure out projects and program to help them improve their neighborhood like fixing up a park, adding a basketball rim or neighborhood cleanups. Most young adults love to use social media, so maybe adults can work with the young person to learn how to use social media to show what they’re doing in the community. They can also blog or tweet about it and take pictures for status updates. Maybe showing the work that is happening in the community will encourage other people to make a difference in the community, or try to reach out and help you clean and fix up your neighborhood.

The second step is to give the young people a specific role to play.  For example, fundraising is a great way to engage young people, because it’s an opportunity for them to have a role to play, so they feel like they are part of something. It’s a great opportunity to build a relationship between the young person and the community group because there can be check-ins and the young people can show their skills and take pride in their contributions. Young people and adult partnerships are taking place across the country; Advocates for Youth in Washington DC has a Youth- Adult Partnership, in which adults work in full partnership with young people on issues facing youth and/or on programs and policies affecting youth. I believe that the program is a really good example of how to work with youth because it is a real partnership and it connects adults and youth through communication and interaction that gives the young people a good hands on experience and everyone has fun while doing it.

Joya Cheatham is CDAD’s summer youth intern from Grow Young Detroit Talent. She is 16 and will be in the 10th grade in the fall. As part of her work with us, she is working on a weekly blog question from the perspective of a young person in the City who is working in her community.

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