November 1, 2013
A New Role for Connecticut Youth: Leaders of Social Change
Connecticut harbors stark inequities in opportunity for its residents, and perhaps no group is as greatly affected by those disparities as our state's children and youth. Every decision made on the community, institutional, and state level shapes the contours of the lives of Connecticut's young people—yet the voices of our youth are all too often absent from public discourse and critical decision-making processes.
A wealth of research documents the challenges and obstacles facing Connecticut's youth, but there have been few attempts to understand the ways in which young people themselves are working to address them. At the same time, a growing body of national research—conducted by academics and by experts in the field of youth engagement—indicates that creating opportunities for youth to act as leaders of social change has a transformative impact on those young people, on their communities, and on the laws, policies, institutions, and systems that shape their lives. In this regard, however, Connecticut is sadly behind the national curve. In communities throughout the country, young people are leading successful efforts to transform their neighborhoods, communities, and schools. The same is possible in Connecticut.