Young people want and deserve a voice in their communities. City officials make decisions that affect youth on a daily basis. Yet young people often have no direct role in shaping or influencing local policies and programs. Even well-intentioned efforts to work for youth – by “protecting” them from perceived threats or by “rescuing” those who already are in jeopardy – can prevent us from recognizing the importance of working with youth to identify positive solutions and build stronger communities.

Nothing is more important to the health of our democracy than the active engagement of young people in representative government at the local level. For this reason alone, mayors and city councilmembers across the nation have sought creative and effective ways to ensure that youth – from diverse ethnic, cultural, and language backgrounds – have a “seat at the table” in their cities and towns.

City officials in communities large and small have already taken steps to ensure that youth have a voice and a role in local government. Based on their diverse experiences, this action kit offers advice and a menu of options to guide municipal leaders’ future efforts.

Download the Action Kit for more information.