BY BECKY HIRST & CLARE MURRELL
On Sunday 29 October 2017, we (and our own little people) met with a group of children and young people from The Field Trip to discuss "What's possible?" for establishing an Engage 2 Act youth division.
This exciting partnership came about after The Field Trip ran a workshop on engaging children and young people at our recent (un)Conference. Little did we know that the workshop was actually going to be run by children and young people! The workshop went down as one of the delegates favourite workshops at the event and the energy from the organisation that followed in relation to write ups and social media sharing gave us a clear signal that there was an energy in this space that needed to be explored! The night of the (un)Conference was when the question was first asked "Hey, how about we start up Engage 2 Act Youth?"
The meeting started with getting to know each other, with the kids and adults discussing a number of given topics in a speed-networking type set up.
Then Becky gave her world premiere performance of explaining the concept of "community engagement" to the 5 year olds (and everyone else) in the room! Everyone enjoyed the breakdown of 'what is community' and 'what is government' and how do the two connect. To say it was unrehearsed, it went surprisingly well! Paul followed up with an overview of what The Field Trip was all about.
We did a line up of ages in the room and had a quick break to let off some steam, and recommenced around the board table to hear about some of the passions of the young people.
Becky was moved to almost tears and Clare had goosebumps with their speeches on marriage equality; the importance of being heard and working together; sustainability and personal influencers (Italian nanas rock!) and career aspirations in engineering. Beyond amazing!
The whole group then undertook a dreaming activity, writing down their dreams, giving them a date to be completed by and identifying some steps that could be taken to make those dreams come true.
This is where the possibilities really began to shine through!
After sharing our big dreams, we started talking about how to make them come true. We all agreed there was still some work to be done on defining exactly what the purpose of Engage 2 Act Youth is but that we were happy for this to be a work in progress.
For now it's something along the lines of improving community engagement with children and young people nationally, enabling more young people to be engaged on matters which affect them.
Some initial ideas that we kicked around both during and after the meeting were -
- Working together on a "Kidference" to be organised and attended by young people. This is already in the pipeline to happen in January 2018 and Becky is lined up to attend as a Keynote Listener;
- Using the Engage 2 Act blog, social networks and email list to share the passions of the young people involved with Engage 2 Act Youth via blogs and videos;
- Re-run the amazing 'Engaging Children & Young People' workshop from the (un)Conference to a broader audience, maybe a future Engage 2 Act Victoria event;
- Prepare an Engage 2 Act Youth Top 10 Tips for Engaging Children & Young People (perhaps an evolving document, in collaboration with others who've already done work in this space)
- Set up Engage 2 Act Youth as a sub-committee or advisory arm to the Engage 2 Act board, particularly on the run up to the next (un)Conference - because Engage 2 Act Youth will definitely have a presence at that!
There most certainly is potential for this to be HUGE and for us to engage with children and young people across the globe regarding how they want to see community engagement with children and young people. There's even potential for Engage 2 Act Youth to provide a consultancy service to those seeking to engage with children and young people, providing best practice advice and guidance.
But for now, it's best that we keep it focused and get it right. We look forward to developing a strong and ongoing relationship with The Field Trip and seeing how things evolve.
And the only thing remaining was a name! One of the young people, Liam, had prepared some name and logo ideas as a start and the whole group gathered around the whiteboard to discuss them. The group self organised the whole process that ended with putting hands up to vote and the decision was made...
Engage 2 Act Youth - Little Steps, BIG change!
And so a new chapter in the Engage 2 Act story is written!