Oakley Youth Empowerment Program
The City of Oakley, incorporated in July 1999, is one of California’s youngest cities. Vesper Society has been working with Oakley since 2006 to create a strong community for youth. Working with Lindsey Bruno, the City’s recreation supervisor for youth programs, the Vesper Society—Oakley team started considering ways to build a sense of belonging. In March, a case study of the Oakley Youth Empowerment Program was completed. Case study interview respondents identified the following strategies for youth empowerment success in any community.
Successful Youth Empowerment Strategies
- Give voice to youth. Youth have ideas and opinions and need a forum to be heard. Giving youth a voice in community efforts also gives them a stake in that community.
- Create opportunities for positive engagement. Seeing what youth can accomplish when given the opportunity to engage and take charge of positive change builds participants’ skills and inspires all. Several respondents noted that youth are the future of the community, and can learn by doing.
- Enable youth to serve as role models and mentors for other youth. Youth who are engaged in the community set an example for younger cohorts. Youth are well-positioned to provide approachable mentorship and resources on teen issues to peers and younger age groups.
- Include adults in a supportive role. Support from adults who believe that youth can make a difference has been essential to Oakley’s Youth Empowerment Program. Adults who voice appreciation of youth efforts and view youth as full partners in the community are important contributors to a cultural norm of valuing all ages.
Read more about the case study here.