We are currently faced with an age of austerity beyond anything envisaged after the 20’s and 30’s. High unemployment, wars, terrorism, people are dying in the horn of Africa, again, yet still we grapple with the problem, struggling to find a solution to a repetition of history. It is a deficit model, one that clearly demonstrates that we are constantly on the back foot.
Do we learn from history? Ironically, history would tell us that we don’t.
History is not a road map leading us to solutions unless we learn from it.
Consider the possibility that like WW1 we are on the edge of wasting a generation of young people through a failure to believe and trust in their ability to offer a solution. Do we listen?
No, not enough we don’t and a failure to listen makes us all deaf.
The London Youth Involvement Project does listen and does enable young people to both work up a solution and present their views on the quality and consistency of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) in schools, this work continues and will do so for at least another 10 months or so. But, perhaps just as importantly, the clarity of the youth work process in working with this group of young people also allowed them to develop skills, knowledge and understanding about themselves and how they relate to the world around them.
Yes we can teach young people about alchol, drugs, tobacco and their effects, but it’s proven that this doesn’t modify related unhealthy behaviours. What does work is a focus on personal resilience and a sense of self. Reflecting on coping mechanisms and our reactions to stressful situations, receiving positive reinforcement of achievements, and most importantly being treated with dignity and respect.
Non-formal education (youth and community work) has an important part to play in the lives of our young people, it is being eroded everywhere we look, but the tide going out leaves a different landscape. One that we must adapt to, and strive to improve in the best interests of, and with, a generation. The best youth and community work changes lives, the best youth and community work builds resilience, a greater sense of self and a positive core, the best youth and community work reduces by a large factor the chances of young people adopting unhealthy behaviours.
The best youth and community work is a partnership that benefits us all.