What is community engagement?
Simply put, community engagement is an initiative by its members to create a positive social change.
It is the partnership between members of the community through their involvement with the planning and decision-making process. They can express their opinions and exchange new information that would be helpful to others. This engagement is very hands-on ranging from community council meetings, parent involvement with academic initiatives, youth organization events and programs, as well as environmental initiatives.
Since, the idea of a ‘community’ is inclusive of all members, their engagement provides perspective. If one’s opinion differ from popular opinion it creates a balanced understanding through conversation and can add layers to the decision-making process.
Youth have voices too!
With communities growing every day, it is important to encourage and educate the next generation. Allowing younger members, the opportunity to voice their opinions and share new information can offer a new perspective to a discussion.
Most often, we look to our youth as the leaders of tomorrow, because are the members of our communities who actively participate, explore, and engage in its development. Dedicating their time and talents to produce a positive impact is a fundamental pillar of what defines youth community engagement. Youth involvement provides a space to recognize personal abilities by helping improve upon the conditions and challenges that directly impact their lives. It can also increase the amount of empowerment felt within the members and themselves.
To keep up their desire to be involved in their communities, youth need to be educated by methods not commonly found in a classroom. Making use of programs that emphasize technology use or discuss topics of interests, for youth; can increase awareness on issues affecting the community while increasing engagement. Taking advantage of communication tools such as social media platforms, will allow a middle ground between what changes are need and how external members can aid. Youth are more likely to be involved in fundraising initiatives such as sport tournaments, selling desserts and beverages, or creative arts showcases. These initiatives create the opportunity for youth to be able to showcase their unique abilities and use their social medias to share this information with peers from other communities.
Empowering youth to be a valuable part of the discussion is another great way to get them engaged in the community. They would be more likely to provide their input if they feel it will be a valuable contribution to the discussion. Not only do they gain a stronger sense of self-efficacy and confidence, but they build stronger connections through their sense of belonging and relationships built with older members.
With information being shared and relationships being built, community members are building lasting traditions that can be practiced over generations. For example, community sweep days, clothing or food drives, holiday sports tournaments, summer picnic parties and various other ideas that can strengthen the connection and pride community members share.
Having both youth and adult members, working together to produce meaningful results for the community is what a true community is all about! If you are considering making a positive social impact in your local community, establishing a partnership with other members of your community is a chance for you to co-lead, by providing frequent and thoughtful contributions.