The perspective of today’s youth is invaluable. Gen Z is the biggest and most diverse generation yet with a powerful understanding of technology and unique view of the world and social issues. Their experience and perspective bring immeasurable value and insight to decision-making. We asked some students why their voice matters. In their words, here are 6 reasons why youth should be included at decision-making tables:
1. Youth offer a unique perspective.
“The youth voice gives a fresh perspective because we don’t see the world the same way as adults do. Adults have been immersed in the world longer, and it sometimes limits what they think is possible. The perspectives of adults can be rooted in the way the world used to be. Youth can give insight that is relevant in a rapidly changing world.”
2. Youth are undervalued.
“Personally, I am most frustrated by how underestimated my generation is. Our ideas, opinions, and dedication to change the world are often discredited simply because we are young. The value we bring to the table has nothing to do with the number of years we have been alive.”
3. Youth know what works and doesn’t work for them.
“The input of younger generations is important especially if what they are advocating for directly or even indirectly affects them. They know what is best for them, and it is important that their perspective is taken into account in order for there to be a higher success rate.”
4. Youth are a voice for equity.
“Youth today represent the most diverse and accepting generation that has ever existed. Because we’ve grown up in a time of radical change in demographics, policies, and leadership, our generation is more accepting, tolerant, and diverse than any generation before us. If our voices were amplified, people of all genders, races, and sexual orientations would be treated with the same respect and dignity. All people would be able to live without fear because of who they are.”
5. Investing in youth is an investment in the future.
“Young people are future leaders and change-makers; thus, by cultivating their leadership and giving them opportunities to share their voice with the community, we are investing in a future that is better, brighter, and led by the youth of today.”
6. Youth inherit the world.
“The youth of today are the future of the world. We will live our entire lives being impacted by today’s decision. We will be the ones dealing with future issues, so we should get a say in how to respond to them now.”
The importance of having youth voices at the table is clear, but where can you begin? Including youth on your board of directors, getting youth perspective on issues through interviews, focus groups, and surveys, and creating youth programs that tackle real issues are great ways to start. The best way to set us up for future success is to include the leaders of tomorrow in creating a better world.
“Our experience is completely unique to any other generation that has come before us, so no one can represent our thoughts, wishes, and goals besides us.” – YouthRoots Participant