strong emphasis on ‘back to school’ campaigns and the youth population has had us thinking critically about the way in which youth are defined and how that impacts the way in which they are integrated into institutions and organizations both as employees and clients to be served.
Traditionally, the youth community has been negatively stereotyped. But what if our image of youth was different? What if they were recognized as technologically savvy, innovative, perceptive and creative individuals? What if our image of youth reflected their diversity and intersecting identities? They too negotiate complex identity categories shaping the way in which they experience the world.
How might this change hiring practices? How would this increase access to services by marginalized youth? Thinking about youth as a homogenous community prevents us from creating inclusive spaces, services and policies. If we can recognize the importance of diverse youth perspectives and their positive influence in community building, we can then better work towards combatting some of the challenges in this region. This includes but is not limited to the high youth unemployment rate, the lack of shelters in Peel for youth living in precarious situations and racism experienced by youth from marginalized groups.
The education sector, local municipalities and regional government, funding agencies and social service providers are being inspired with their energy as is evident in the various ways in which diverse youth voices are becoming integrating in mandates, programming and services.
It is also important to recognize the amazing work youth themselves are in engaging in. For instance, The Regional Youth Roundtable
(RYR), lead by an executive of students, connects youth-led organizations all across Peel Region. Recognizing the internal diversity of youth, RYR held key community consultations this year for LGBTQ and newcomer youth in the region in an effort to dialogue about their needs and concerns. The youth-led organizations
at the RYR table are a testament to the positive impact youth can have in communities. Just to name a few: Peel Environmental Youth Alliance
of 700 students focuses on environmental issues, Ink Movement
cultivates, supports and showcases young artists through its annual anthology, The Peel Student Presidents' Council
promotes student leadership within PDSB and Volunteering in Peel
connects high school students with various volunteering opportunities.
We encourage everyone to reflect on the transformative power youth can have in communities and the ways in which your organizations can help harness it.
-The Regional Diversity Roundtable