The Power of Language in Youth Advocacy

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Last week, we had the privilege and opportunity to join forces with the Community Foundation for Southeast to host On the Table, a community dialogue about what we hope to see for our youth, with our office partners and dear friends at Bamboo Detroit.  And we didn’t do this alone--we were part of a greater collective of over 400 organizations and community leaders hosting these conversations across seven counties in Southeast Michigan.

Forty community members and youth advocates joined us for lunch at On the Table. What brought them here? We asked this question as they walked into the cafe--asking each attendee to share this in one word on a whiteboard. Kids...Equity...Love...Hope...Community. Some were retired educators; others were working in our schools with youth today. Non-profit leaders, foundation staff, and corporate professionals committed to responsibly contributing to education...they were all around the table.

One of these people was Mary--a community advocate who has been in this work for decades. Mary engaged us in a powerful exercise that asked us not what we want to see for youth, but to speak as if we are ten years in the future.  She encouraged us to claim and affirm what we see in the year 2027 for youth across our region. There was an instant shift in body language, tone, the air of the room. It was one of hope, one of conviction, one of belief. Participants spoke of collaboration and equity, a region where all children are thriving, happy, and healthy. Some even shared that they hadn’t considered reaching this place, yet speaking as if it is, put them in a different space--and that is what our youth need, a community that believes in them and acts accordingly.

We wanted to be sure our participants walked away with tangible action--and we want to share this with you, as well. We identified some of these in advance and community members who join us shared, as well:

  • What is the area you want to focus on to serve our youth? If you had $1,000 handed to you today, what would you do to get started or continue that work? The Awesome Foundation wants to know! Click here to learn more about this organization and to apply today.
  • Vote! Our legislation and policies that we have a voting right in impact our community, our youth, and our lives as a whole. Don’t stand by idly.
    • In Michigan, you can register to vote by mail and in person by submitting a completed State of Michigan Voter Registration Application (Form ED-121) to your city or township clerk.
    • Vote on Thursday November 7th! The following elections will be taking place for Michigan:
      • Michigan House of Representatives District 1 (General)
      • Michigan House of Representatives District 109 (General)
      • Detroit (General)
      • Flint (Recall)
      • Jackson (Recall)

County and municipal elections are taking place across Michigan as well. Find more information about your ballot here.

  • Click here to learn more and stay engaged with On the Table.

We are deeply grateful for those who joined us at On the Table, for those who joined other On the Tables last week, and for all who are doing work in service of our youth in our region each day.