May 4th, 2012

Brownies and Autonomy

Working with young people is essential to what we believe in, rather than working on young people (it’s part of our mission). This means trying our best to listen you young people and act upon what we hear them saying. I think sometimes we are very good at doing this and it is a clear cut event, so for example with the picture above. The young people asked us if they could make Brownies and the following week we made Brownies together.  A clear example of listening to requests of young people and acting upon them, this is important in our work because this listening to young people in a two way journey. Sometimes young people need to listen to us, we have proved ourselves trustworthy in listening to them and this means we can be listened too. I would say in the past sometimes the balance has swung wildly over to this side amongst in the world of youth work, where youth workers have to act on everything young people demand, this is also unhealthy. Especially if they want to swim with Crocodiles in the Congo!

An example of this is when the Canaan Project think we have something we think would be ‘good’ for the young people, like a new experience that they might develop or grow from, whether that be through new knowledge or new experience. Examples of these might be a trip to an Architect so they can explain about their job and what they do, or it might be completing a High Ropes course (blogged about a couple of weeks ago, here). It requires trust from young people and this is only developed in relationship with young people which is only developed from listening to and acting upon the needs of young people even if this is making Brownies! Making Brownies is essential work, and might only seem like a small and maybe even insignificant part of the work but isn’t.