Youth leading Youth: Manningham Leads the Way with Engaging Young People

By Paul Kooperman

Engage 2 Act Youth

Engage 2 Act Youth was engaged by Manningham YMCA, in partnership with Manningham Council, to prepare 15 young people to lead a workshop at the Manningham Youth Summit on Tuesday 27 March, 2018.

As per the Engage 2 Act Youth philosophy, it's a priority that young people should always participate in the design and delivery of any engagement for other young people and so Rue Tunga and Sarita Barnett, two young Drivers (leaders) at The Field Trip (a youth movement focused on social change and community leadership) participated as co-facilitators on the day.

Six issues were explored, as these were the issues our young facilitators in Manningham would have to lead conversations about on the day of the Summit - community, safety, personal relationships, mental health and wellbeing, creating change and youth services. Activities were undertaken with the group, as a way to provoke discussion and to provide examples of how they might open up their own conversations with the Summit attendees.

Armed with the new E2A badge: "I involve community in decision-making, what's your super power?", that's exactly how the session started: going around the circle asking all participants what their super power is. Not what they'd like it to be but what it actually is now. The answers were awesome - 'making people feel valued', 'listening', 'challenging others in a positive way', 'making people laugh or smile', 'being a friend if they need one', and more. Stuff to make the heart sing and soul smile LOUDLY.

Another cool activity we ran was asking one of the participants to initiate and lead a conversation about 'community', but with a twist. Of the other participants in the room, we roleplayed that one pretended to be blind, another to be deaf, one couldn't speak English, one was an Asylum Seeker and new to the country, one had no family at all to speak of, one was homeless and so on. The point was not to discuss or perpetuate stereotypes but to consider and incorporate context. So when one leads a conversation, one needs to be aware of the people in the room. Everyone is different. Everyone comes to any conversation with a unique perspective. It's important, as a facilitator, to be mindful of context, to be considerate of people's perspectives and to incorporate perspective into the conversation - NOT to ignore or avoid it. People are not pipe cleaners! People are presents, each differently wrapped, of different sizes, shapes and points of view, each with a different reason for being. And any conversation needs to embrace rather than exclude the various (and potentially wide ranging) perspectives in the room.

It was an exhilarating session and I'd like to thank our young facilitators: Rue and Sarita, as well as Michael Collings and Manningham YMCA, and the Manningham Council, for the wonderful opportunity to undertake this engagement.

On behalf of and proudly supporting Engage 2 Act Youth: Little Steps Big Change.