Youth Councils Use SSNRE Activity to Recommend Policy Changes

Five Youth Councils and their young people (ages 13-20) from across Indiana participated in an activity supported by the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence to conceptualize what it means to live in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment, while also fostering these qualities in relationships that they have. Three sheets for each concept (Safe, Stable, Nurturing) were passed from youth council to youth council, giving young people the opportunity to write, draw, and doodle their ideas.

After doing this activity, the information between the councils was compiled into a document which was summarized with key words and ideas. With these recommendations, young people were not only looking at personal interactions, but also systemic patterns of behavior, promoting organizational inclusion and stability. Young people are aware of the importance of financial stability, food security, housing stability. These qualities and many more helped clarify that young people already have complex understandings of large systems. One of the most surprising findings was that young people suggested that they need to contribute to their environments by having opportunities to volunteer and lead within their communities. Through this, young people want to give back to their community to create positive, healthy environments.

The Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s Youth Council also saw this data and chose major areas to help bring about change through our organization and community. The Youth Council recommended we look into connectedness, organizational inclusion, and support for young people’s personal growth (i.e. encouragement, acceptance of mistakes). These three areas created a call to action for ICADV, and we look forward to keeping these ideas at the forefront to support young people, changing organizational habits and supporting this change in their communities.

ICADV would like to thank the County-wide Youth Council for Leadership and Engagement in Putnam County, the Council on Domestic Abuse Youth Council in Vigo County, the Monroe County Youth Council, the ICADV Youth Council, and Alternatives Inc. in Hancock County, for participating in this long process. We look forward to the actions that come out of each of these youth councils, the organizations they represent, and the communities they strive to make better.