Youth Knowledge for the People

An Intensive Training Camp on Social Justice Youth-led Research
…with Youth in Focus.

Youth CampOn March 7th, 2009, youth organizers from a variety of organizations in the East Bay and San Francisco united at the Madison Park Apartments Community Room in Oakland with the desire to learn more about the range of methods that can be used to document the realities lived by people in their day to day life in order to produce data that will actually reflect the truth as they know it. The main objective of the day was to instill a heightened sense of familiarity and confidence in these impassioned organizers in order for them to approach research as a strategic tool used to empower their voices and bring real change to their communities.

Educating organizers about Participatory Action Research (PAR) was the primary goal of the day. PAR is a method by which researchers and the community in which they are studying work together to identify the best way to go about a problem and make sure that the results of the research make a difference. As a way to learn about the different methods used in participatory action research, Youth in Focus arranged a series of interactive games. In an activity titled, “Round Robin,” participants were divided into small groups and led to different stations, each a different method of collecting data. It’s important to come face to face with each technique, sorting through the pros and cons, in order to build ones knowledge of how the research method actually works. The Data Center presented the group with a “research planning scenario” activity that allowed participants to think about strategic approaches to issues in their community. This exercise gave youth participants the opportunity to talk out the ways in which to go about designing uses of information depending on various factors such as one’s constituency, ally base, media coverage, and specified target.

The activities of the day were received very well but what I was most excited about was seeing such young and inspiring faces at this event. I was even more thrilled when I overheard youth organizers telling others about their organization, the type of campaigns they have been working on, and how research could strengthen their action. The exchange of admiration as well as advice between the participants was the most rewarding thing to observe. When you connect with other organizers at events such as this and truly communicate a message that equips them with the concrete tools and motivation necessary for change, confidence and inspiration in the movement flourishes.

At the end of the day, participants were glad to meet new inspiring faces and learn the stepping-stones to research. They commented that this research camp is a crucial resource needed to expose youth organizers to the different strategic techniques used for social change. However, exposure to these techniques is just the first step. Youth also expressed their interest in a more technical follow up training in order to master these research strategies and make a real impact on their organization as well as their community.

By: Sylvia Aguiñaga, Data Center Intern

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