Groups around the Itasca area are working with Youth Voice data in a number of different ways. In Deer River, a group of adults and young people recently planned and then facilitated a conversation with other teens in Deer River. They hoped to dig deeper into their survey results and to plan for action that addresses what they learned from the data.
People my age (nearing retirement) often have preconceived notions about teens. Last week at Deer River High School, those notions were not only proved wrong – they were but proved incredibly wrong.
Last week I joined a team of four adults and four students who stepped into a role of meeting planners and conversation hosts for thirteen youth. We took these young people through a process that used the Student Voice Survey Data to identify priorities and make plans to change their community. The group chose to work on the broad task of making sure all students are prepared for school, and to that all students have access to meaningful connections to the community.
During the day, I watched as teens worked together to develop goals and plan for action. I watched as they encouraged each other – when one person struggled, others stepped up to helped. I continuously witnessed examples of quiet support and caring for each other. It was a privilege to watch as the team took on some really hard tasks; breaking the processes down to manageable pieces. At the end of the day, I felt inspired by these teens having gotten to know a little more about their world.
Every once in a while, people will ask me why I work with teens in this community. After all, I no longer have children in the school, I don’t have grandchildren in these schools. Experiences like the one I had in Deer River provide a great example of why I do this work. I’ve witnessed the potential in these teens. Now it’s time for us all to step up to support them.