Toward a working definition of youth advocacy

Drawing on other definitions from a variety of sources, we’ve put together this working definition of youth advocacy:

Dorothy Broderick, the founder of Voice of Youth Advocates, broadly defined youth advocacy as “creating the conditions under which young people can make decisions about their own lives (Jones & Waddle, 2002, p. 24). Youth advocacy inheres in both actions and mindset; it occurs at both macro and micro levels, through the challenging of systemic inequities and institutional biases but also through the thoughtful, respectful, substantively equitable provision of day-to-day service. Youth advocacy seeks to support and empower youth as individuals, as members of families and communities, and as part of society as a whole. Youth advocacy includes but is not limited to:

Promoting an advocacy mindset

  • Recognizing youth as individuals while understanding the social contexts in which they operate
  • Remaining informed about the issues that impact youth

Advocacy in the library

  • Protecting and defending the rights of all youth to access library materials and services
  • Providing thoughtful, respectful, and equitable library services to all youth
  • Providing library services that support successful youth development from birth through adulthood
  • Promoting youth creativity, self-sufficiency, and critical literacy

Advocacy in the community

  • Advocating for institutional and social structures which support youth development
  • Challenging systemic inequities and institutional biases
  • Promoting youth civic engagement
  • Educating others about the issues that impact youth

Facilitating advocacy efforts by others

  • Providing youth with tools, skills, and information to advocate for themselves
  • Supporting and/or partnering with organizations and individuals that engage in youth advocacy
  • Providing communities with tools, skills, and information to engage in youth advocacy

How does this fit with the work you do?

–Claire

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