Bridging youth and early childhood movements

Roberta Rael, project manager for the KUNM Youth Radio Project, discusses the importance of empowering youth through leadership roles and engaging them in early childhood development work. She is currently involved with Strong Start for Children, an early childhood development initiative in Albuquerque, N.M.

My name is Roberta Rael and I am the principal of Inspired Leadership, Inc. I'm also the project manager for the KUNM Youth Radio Project.

The KUNM Youth Radio Project has been in existence for five years and the mission of the project is to have young people come into this field of journalism, but through a social justice lens. This is a multi-media project that started off as being a radio project. Once we got into doing more multimedia, we have also been involved with a variety of groups in the community.

I've been a facilitator for the Early Childhood Action Network. Through that work I recognized that there seemed to be a gap between the early childhood movement in New Mexico and the youth movement in New Mexico. And I began to try to find ways to link the two because in reality they're really seamless.

We were written into the Family Development Program's proposal, and then I think when Everyday Democracy saw that component for Family Development, Everyday Democracy thought it would be a good idea for this service and opportunity to be offered to all five grantees of Strong Starts in New Mexico and that's how we ended up helping to document all of the Strong Starts processes for the five grantees.

It's a way to bring young people into the process in a meaningful way to young people.  It's a way of building capacity for the grantees. It's a way of also bringing youth voice into their organizations.

What we hope to see as a result of this is that young people have the opportunity to learn about the value of focusing on early childhood development. That will make a difference in how they approach their own parenting and seeking support in their community.

I think having young people be kind of in a leadership role is really important because the more powerful young people feel that they are today as young people and the more that they know how to manage the system in terms of policy changes, then as they become adults, they're going to be even more powerful to continue to create social change.

December 14, 2010

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