The Five Freedoms Project

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5 Things You Can Do: Action

1. Find Out What Kids Can Do

What Kids Can Do (WKCD) is a national nonprofit founded in January 2001. Using the Internet, print, and broadcast media, WKCD presses before the broadest audience possible a dual message: the power of what young people can accomplish when given the opportunities and supports they need and what they can contribute when we take their voices and ideas seriously. The youth who concern WKCD most are those marginalized by poverty, race, and language.

To learn more about WKCD, and to hear the powerful stories of young people across the country, click here.

 

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2. Support Youth Voice and Youth Service

As 20-year-old Jennifer Zeisler explains, “Youth voice is the concept that young people are respected for their ideas and opinions and are free to state them within an organization or program. Youth voice is an asset to any organization, but especially to those that serve youth. Youth know best what they need and can play an important role in deciding how to get it, but often society socializes them to think that their opinions don’t count and that adults know what is best for them.

“Youth want to be heard. They have new ideas and different perspectives than adults. They want to make their mark in the world and affect those around them. Youth want to shape the future because that is where they will live their lives.”

To read more, check out the Education Commission for the State’s Learning In Deed Issue Paper: Integrating Youth Voice in Service-Learning, as well as RMC Research’s Research in Support of Youth Voice and Service-Learning.

 

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3. Give Students Opportunities to Work Together

Public Achievement is a youth civic engagement initiative focused on the most basic concepts of citizenship, democracy and public work. Public Achievement draws on the talents and desires of ordinary people to build a better world and to create a different kind of politics.

Public Achievement is designed to give young people the opportunity to be producers and creators of their communities, not simply customers or clients. Working with adult coaches (often college students), teams of young people focus on issues grounded in their passions, values, and interests. Team actions are real work, taking place over time, with identifiable results or products.

Public Achievement’s work is anchored on a few core ideas:

  1. Everybody can do citizen work — There are no prequalifications; all people, regardless of age, nationality, sex, religion, income, education … are citizens and can be powerful public actors.
  2. Citizenship isn’t easy — Democracy is messy, often frustrating, but when you work hard with others, you can accomplish extraordinary things.
  3. We learn by doing — The most important lessons of democracy come from doing public work; from finding ways to cooperate with people who are different and may disagree. When we solve problems together, we all learn from each other. This is the kind of politics that everyone can do, not just politicians.

 

To learn more about Public Achievement, click here.

 

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4. Build Your Community’s Capacity for Collaboration

Making Connections – Denver believes that children do better when their families are strong, and families do better when they live in communities that help them to succeed. MC – D offers the Block Party Tool Kit and the Story Circle Tool Kit as tools to help bring people together and build relationships among neighbors.

To download these tools, click here.

 

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5. Renew Your School

The League of Professional Schools is a practitioner-driven network of schools in which each school initiates and implements a democratic learning community that is student-oriented and focused on improving teaching and learning for all.

In its publication, A Guide to Renewing Your School: Lessons from the League of Professional Schools, the League resists offering a prescription for practice, and provides instead a systematic format that is applicable to every school. The book contains numerous illustrations and self-monitoring guides to facilitate the assessment of a school's implementation efforts.

To read A Guide to Renewing Your School, click here.

 

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