The first week of November The Doorway was invited to an international conversation about the role of community in supporting young people outside of traditional supports who are building their lives toward participation in our society.
We came together in Galway, Ireland, a city already chosen as a UNESCO city because it represents diversity and new ideas and progressive thinking toward the future of our world. 13 countries represented research and initiatives seeking to build a more inclusive community approach to welcoming young people currently on the margins of mainstream society.
Being in Ireland for an incredibly short time, I still had small windows to explore the city and find people to talk to about their country, its leadership, and its participation on the world stage.
I was particularly impacted by the stories of ‘The Travellers’ of Ireland. Similar to the gypsies of eastern Europe, they became a group of marginalized people outside of the mainstream economy who devise their means of survival without ownership of land.
In 2015 Ireland officially called for legislation to formally recognize Travellers as a distinct ethnic grouping. It was seen as a major step towards achieving equality and the equal valuing of Traveller culture and lifestyle. This action of the State is hoped to challenge the racism, discrimination, and disadvantage they experience in society at large.
It occured to me that our young people who ‘do not belong’ in our status quo society
are the beginning of a way of life long experienced throughout history over the world,
when certain people are gradually pushed to the margins with a decreasing amount of systems’ attention or interest… and because of their ability to survive they are eventually defined and accepted as ‘an other’ in their society.
They are no longer of interest as persons, but as factors and data and labels, quantifiable and assessed with appropriately applied management or control strategies…
and when able to prove they are irrelevant
and harmless to the agendas of society
they are ignored
and sometimes pitied
by charitable folks whose primary understanding of
their need for food, clothing and shelter
become the only interventions provided.
And whether you are in Ireland, or Canada, or whatever country you are from, the recognizable patterns exist in all.
Our children and young people deserve the intervention of our attention and efforts to change the trajectory they have experienced on our watch.
Thankfully multiple initiatives already are at the tables of ideas. (e.g. Galway Community Development and Resiliency symposium and its leaders). People have and are sharing a vision to prevent such a fate for our young people worldwide. An energized strategy is developing to change current realities toward their inclusion and participation in our communities.
Our young people need to know that as their advocates, we are working toward SOCIAL CHANGE on their behalf.
Current research shows dramatically that “… doing justice for children and youth is a daily task for everyone; it cannot be restricted to experts and professionals. The work essentially requires that we all pitch in to save the children, bringing whatever positive life skills and love we have to bear on the considerably difficult mission that lies ahead.”
Youth Crisis, growing up in a high risk society (Nanette Davis)
WE CAN DO THIS!
Honoring our young people and learning our role in welcoming them back into our society is our highest calling. It is an ongoing attention we all can do just by being ourselves and paying attention to the children we know. One person, one day at a time, can change a world.
To be continued..