Expanding Youth Voice with the Youth Advisory Counci
“Youth Voice is nothing without adult action,” stated Dorian Thomas as he spoke on behalf of the Youth Advisory Council (YAC) at a town hall meeting. The significance of that quote aligns with the mission of BEST Kids Mentoring program which is to empower youth in foster care to build better futures, one child at a time.
At BEST Kids we seek to help our youth raise their voices as a way to support creative expression and identity formation. We want to continue to expand the voices of the youth by providing them the platform to speak about the complexities of being a child in foster care. Among the many youth voice efforts the YAC is all about teaching young people about the ways media shapes perceptions of themselves and the world around them, and equipping them with the tools to tell their own stories.
Prioritizing our youth perspectives helps them to make decisions that affect their learning and lives, and creating the YAC has put them in positions of genuine leadership and authority. When running a program designed to enhance the lives of the youth, who better to critique it than the youth themselves.
BEST Kids envisioned creating a culture of youth voice where young people’s ideas are both taken seriously and implemented with the support of caring adults. It takes adults willing to share power and expand possibilities and it takes young people willing to take initiative and lead. We hope the Youth Advisory Council can serve as an example of what it takes to make a culture of youth voice a reality.
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