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Youth Empowerment

The Importance of Young People and Our Voices

girls at recess
girls at recess
brett recollet

Brett Recollet

Youth advisory council member, Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health

Brett is a First Nations young person from the Whitefish River community. He’s worked in a number of youth settings for the last 10 years and has seen the critical value of young people and their voices.

There are currently over 1.8 billion young people around the world — and we know the value that our voices bring to today’s and tomorrow’s generations. We have 1.8 billion voices and 1.8 billion opportunities.

As young people, we’ve proven that our profound perspectives and passion can change the world. We’re learning and growing faster now, so we need to be part of the conversation. We need that connection and that community to thrive in our authentic lives. We’ve seen what young people can accomplish because of our diversity and willingness to work together!

Why youth engagement?

The circle of life has four stages. Although each stage is critical, adults need to continue that knowledge transfer to young people. This will give us the opportunity to become future leaders.

How can you achieve youth engagement?

  • Find a cause and an organization that will allow you to share your authentic voice.
  • Build a young person–adult partnership to create safe spaces for you. A safe space is a place where you can feel confident, comfortable, and safe to share your authentic voice virtually and in person. You are heard and actions are being implemented.
  • Adults have the responsibility and duty to work with young people to create those safe spaces.

So, how do you get started?

Find your passion, find your motivation, find your community and the rest will follow!

Pro tip when being engaged: always remind yourself of your head, your heart, and your feet:

  • Head: What did you learn from this?
  • Heart: How do you feel about this?
  • Feet: What are you going to do about this?

And remember, it’s never too late — or too early — to create positive change. In the words of First Nations Actor Sladen Peltier, “And a wise boy once said, ‘As young people, we are very ambitious and strive to achieve the unachievable, together we can make our mark in this world.’”

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