Naima T. Wong, MPH, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan, 1420 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, (734)572-3605, firstname.lastname@example.org
Youth participation is identified as essential to healthy adolescent and community development (WHO, 1986). This recommendation is internationally ratified by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Lesko, 1996; Rajani, 2000; WHO, 1986). Article 12 states that every young person as the right to express her or his views and have them taken into consideration (Bennett & Tonkin, 2003; Rajani, 2000; WHO, 1986). Despite international ratification of this treaty, few structural efforts in the U.S. are made to incorporate youth views into policy discussion and development (Checkoway et al., 2005; Ginwright, 2003). As Giroux (p. 33, 2003) explains it is “noncommodified public spheres in which people learn the language of ethics, civic courage, democratic politics, and collective empowerment.” Young people must contend with the notion that there are few public spheres that encourage their strengths, contributions, and positive self-expression. This research is centered in the philosophy that preventing problems alone is not enough to foster healthy adolescent and community development. In striving towards the WHO definition of health, adults bear the responsibility to engage young people in the discourse, research, and policies that affect young peoples' lives (Call et al., 2002; Ginwright, 2003; Lesko, 2001). This project assumes part of that responsibility by highlighting young peoples' voices and empirically assessing their views on the strengths and limitations of local policy. I use grounded theory to qualitatively understand what policy issues young people identify and how they want them addressed.
Keywords: Youth, Community Building
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA