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Where our Sidewalk Leads…

On June 9th I (Katarina) attended a workshop in Waterloo: Where the Sidewalk Leads: A Conversation bringing together people who are interested in exploring innovative approaches to working with youth.

Organized by SiG @ Waterloo – ” a national collaboration addressing Canada’s social and ecological challenges by creating a culture of continuous social innovation” (http://sig.uwaterloo.ca/about-the-waterloo-institute-for-social-innovation-and-resilience-wisir) – this workshop was an opportunity to explore new perspectives on working with youth of all ages and backgrounds.

This ‘out-of-the-box’ question guided the conversation: what are some of the questions we are not asking but should be asking when it comes to working with youth?

Interesting question, isn’t  it?  By asking it, the diverse range of youth-based organizations, teachers, educators, spiritual leaders, and researchers at the workshop were encouraged to not only identify the assumptions they hold when it comes to working with young people, but also to deconstruct these via open, candid, and honest reflection.

So, where does the sidewalk lead?  There is no easy answer.  This workshop was certainly a starting point, where more questions were provided than answers, questions such as:

Why don’t we encourage creativity in youth?  Why do we always speak for youth, instead of allowing them to voice their thoughts, perspectives, and opinions?  Why aren’t we trying to engage the most disadvantaged youth in environmental and social programming?

At 10 Carden we’re busy thinking up new initiatives to engage youth in Guelph and beyond in social change initiatives, and we’re using questions such as these as a starting point.  We want to encourage youth to join existing organizations, to voice their opinions, and also to  have the courage to start their own creative projects. So far, we have had 1 co-op student from a local high-school work closely with us on food-related issues, and we’re about to welcome a new team of youth volunteers to our organization from Katimavik.  We encourage everyone involved in youth projects, working with youth, and youth themselves to contact us for ideas, suggestions, and ways to get involved in building collaborative youth-focused projects for social change.

For more information about this workshop and other [email protected] events, visit http://sig.uwaterloo.ca/feature/where-our-sidewalk-leads