Youth Work and Youth Development is about empowering youth to lead in their communities and world, making their voices matter and helping them to become the best versions of themselves. For me, youth work is about helping marginalized youth who face extreme and mild cases of oppression in our world. To think that a child has to feel like they do not belong makes it hard for me to sleep at night. All I want is for every youth to feel empowered, and like their voices matter. Oppressed youth are SOOOO much more than the stereotypes they are given. They are passionate, strong, independent, hard-working, dedicated, mature, and so on. I have worked with many youth in oppressed populations, and there is no better feeling than to lead with such powerful young individuals.
The goal in doing youth work is making sure that your youth have all the resources, and guidance that they need to reach their goals. I feel as a youth worker I am helping youth lay their foundation to build a beautiful life off of. I want their foundation to be filled with hope, knowledge, strength, resilience, love, care, and make it unique to themselves. I want to be a support system for youth, while giving them the major role of leading where I am there in the background the whole way. Every individual youth has their own set of skills and abilities, so making individualized connections with youth is probably the most important part of the job. You first need to connect with youth when trying to help them grow into the human that THEY want to be.
I am a youth worker to hopefully one day create change for my youth so that their oppression turns into opportunities, so that their doubts turn into hope, so that their goals turn into reality, and so that their hard work results in change.
I read the text This Is Youth Work, and I specifically chose to focus on chapter 3. This chapter specifically spoke to me because it illustrates the oppression that exist in our society. Many of the youth I work with have to experience this in their everyday lives, and can relate to the stories inside of this chapter. Thinking about that breaks my heart, and knowing that it really happens makes me even more upset. Why do children have to be treated like dangerous criminals when they're walking to their homes??? Why should a child be harassed and embarrassed by an individual whose supposed to protect them in their community??? And most of all why should a child of color have to try so much harder and face so much many difficulties to even grow the slightest bit?