Toward a Critical Social Theory of Youth Empowerment

by Louise B. Jennings, Deborah M. Parra-Medina, Deanne K. Hilfinger-Messias, Kerry McLoughlin
Journal of Community Practice ()
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Abstract

“Urban” youth–a euphemism for underserved, poor, marginalized, ethnicminority youth–can be active participants incommu- nity change. Countering the predominant image of these youth as disen- gaged or troubled, this article describes three projects that engage urban youth in community change through participatory research. The authors share their experiences as adult allies on these projects and examine four lessons learned, addressing: (1) the importance of positionality; (2) the role of adult allies in youth-led projects; (3) the creation of safe spaces; and (4) the building of trust and relationships. They conclude that urban youth can become a vital resource for community transformation.

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