Anna Carlson is an Americorp Promise Fellow working with the Itasca Area Initiative for Student Success. 

Americorps Fellow Anna Carlson is working with youth fro the Itasca area to assess the results from the Youth Voice Student Survey.

Americorps Fellow Anna Carlson is working with youth from the Itasca area to assess the results from the Youth Voice Student Survey.           

As the holidays come to a close and a new year begins, many of you are making annual resolutions. For some this means hitting the gym to loose whatever was gained by an over-zealous appetite for Christmas goodies. For others it means saving more money or quitting a bad habit. I’d like to hone my newest hobby, knitting– something that shouldn’t be too hard considering I don’t think it’s possible to get any worse than I already am.

Resolutions are often “me” oriented. “What do I want to be better at?” “What can I do to improve my situation?” As my knitting needles sit collecting dust, and those running shoes never seem to get broken in, maybe this year its time to take our resolutions in a new direction. What if we made a point to do something for others? The things our area youth told us in the Youth Voice Survey give us the perfect platform to make a resolution to listen to youth and plan with them for something new in 2015.

Seventy-four percent of our young people indicated that they don’t believe adults in the community valuing them as individuals. Another 75% indicate they don’t believe they have meaningful opportunities to contribute, to be involved, to feel safe and to feel connected to their community. As adults, we may be shocked by these statistics and jump to adult-led action. While we mean well, this can only perpetuate the perception.

Sixty-five percent of youth agreed that adults in the community both listen and make them feel important; so let’s do just that. Let’s take this data and use it as a tool to help us ask the right questions, listen to the answers, and resolve to start the New Year off right by having 100% of youth be heard.

Contact Anna to learn how you can support youth who are working to make a difference in their community at