Just a week into my AmeriCorps VISTA term with the Coalition last September, I was lucky enough to sit in on SKCCH’s 2011 Youth Advocacy Summit and chat with participants about the challenges they face living without a stable home in King County. The Homeless Coalition’s Youth Advocacy Summit is a two day event for homeless and at-risk youth and young adults to identify and discuss policy issues that are most important to them. Youth learn about and practice advocacy skills by bringing identified issues before City of Seattle and King County officials. I found last year’s Summit to be informative and inspiring – for both the youth and the elected officials involved. Youth were able to voice their opinions on issues from the need for more low-income friendly transportation to the lack of public toilets and lockers. Their top 5 priorities were the following:
- Housing/Services for Unaccompanied Minors
- Career Development
- Public Storage and Lockers
- Service Stewardship
More details here: 2011 Youth Summit Participant Priorities
This year’s Youth and Young Adult Advocacy Summit is less than 3 weeks away: September 10 and 11. Through presentations by guests speakers like Nancy Amidei (Civic Engagement Project), members of the Seattle Human Services Coalition, and staff from the Mockingbird Society, youth participants will learn about how Seattle and King County governments set policies and budgets and how their voices can make a difference in policy decisions that affect their day to day lives. Over two days participants will work to identify issues that they care about, prepare presentations, and then meet with elected officials to bring their voices to bear on policy decision-making around the issues they care about that are affected by City and County budgeting decisions.
Members of SKCCH’s Youth & Young Adults Committee (made up of area social service and housing providers) designed this year’s annual Youth Advocacy Summit to be a meaningful entry into civic engagement for young people who have already experienced disenfranchisement. SKCCH works to make sure that the people who are directly affected by public policies are part of dialogue, debate, and decision-making. The Youth Summit is an exciting and important way to do just that:
- Engage young people in expressing their opinions, identifying priorities, and speaking up powerfully
- Inform local decision-makers who often don’t hear from youth or people who are homeless or struggling to stay housed
- Support active and informed participation in democracy to make sure that Everyone Counts
Our 2012 Youth Advocacy Summit will be held on September 10th and 11th and will include youth from across King County who have personally experienced homelessness. Questions about the 2012 Youth Summit? Contact Melissa King, co-chair of SKCCH’s Youth and Young Adult Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org.