Objectives of Living Streets Youth

The goal is to encourage young citizen engagement in community building and offer opportunities to implement giving education for children and adolescents in diverse immigrant urban communities in contemporary Australia. This is done through “Youth-led” community events that enable participation by neighborhood children and their parents. To achieve this goal, Living Streets Association established the Living Streets Youth with Youth Meetings in 2017.

Its objectives are: Enhance the experience of connecting to others and with each other, develop social competence and social responsibility, build confidence, discover self-value, learn to deal with conflict, and encourage mutual support through community building.

This creates an option for young people to connect with the real world, especially during school breaks. Through youth meetings, community building projects can be initiated, discussed, and planned.

Educational opportunities for Children and Young People:

1. Cultivate a sense of connection with others who lives on the same street in a healthy relationship with the community

Implementing giving education can help young people connect with others and become an important person for others (Nielsen, 2010). In the youth meeting, young people know that their opinions are important and can help change the community. They brainstorm about various events, such as Easter eggs hunt, spring and autumn play days, Christmas Street party etc. to engage with neighborhood children and for neighborhood children to engage with each other in different seasons. 

Young people can also develop their social skills and build relationships with neighbors when they interact with the young children in the neighborhood in a caring, inclusive, and considerate way, during planned or random street plays.

2. Develop a sense of efficacy

When young people organize events for their neighborhood, they are developing a sense of efficacy from involvement in both the youth meeting and the actual events. Young people find that they can be contributors for different activities. They can be leaders of games at a child’s birthday party in the neighborhood, help to set up a street or a garage movie night, or simply have fun with young children on the street.

Once young people reach a certain age, they can share experiences of getting jobs and discuss the job application process. This can effectively give encouragement to the group, they have more to talk about among themselves, and is also another way to boost a sense of efficacy.

3. Actively take action and participate in wider community affairs

When young people contribute to the community tabloid article writing and deliver the tabloids for the community, they start paying attention to community affairs outside of themselves but are closely related to them.

When young people participated in wider community affairs such as the campaigns to preserve neighborhood green space, or participated in the promotion of community consultation meetings, they see themselves from a broader perspective, discover their relationship with the community, and find their own place within the community.

4. Perspective taking

Guiding children to experience perspective taking in the process of community participation and transforming it into a driving force for personal and overall progress is a valuable educational opportunity created by the community building.

Perspective taking is the central driving force for developing social skills. Considering multiple and divergent opinions can strengthen moral and intellectual development. Youth meetings provide children with opportunities to learn to see things from the perspective of others. For example, when young people plan for a school holiday program, they exchange their views on whether to set a theme for the program before calling for activities contributed by volunteers. When young people discussed what they can do differently by complimenting another volunteer about their leadership, activity, or interaction with children in a reflective meeting after the summer holiday program, they learnt to understand and appreciate the perspectives of others.

5. Meaning and place

Guiding children to expErikson (1958, 1968) contends that one of the tasks of adolescence is to find one’s own place in the world, to find the intersection of one’s personal history with history itself.

The adolescent mind becomes a more explicitly ideological one, by which we mean one searching for some inspiring unification of tradition or anticipated techniques, ideas, and ideals. And, indeed, it is the ideological potential of a society which speaks most clearly to the adolescent who is so eager to be affirmed by peers, to be confirmed by teachers, and to be inspired by worth-while ‘ways of life’.” (Erikson, 1968, p.130)

Young people of Living Streets have been recognised by the following awards: 2019 and 2016 ACT Children’s Week- Youth Commitment Award, for recognising a need in their community and working together to create a solution. 2018 and 2015 ACT Children’s Week- Significant Contribution Award, for making extraordinary contributions to ACT children and young people. 

When young people are inspired by valuable ‘lifestyles’ such as community life, an ideology of community life that connects the people will be developed in the process of participation. Being affirmed by words or awards will also confirm their own identity. The newly acquired personal identity allows young people to spontaneously make this “lifestyle’ further advanced. 

6. Social consciousness and the development of social responsibility

Living Streets stands in groups that advocate for sustainability and healthy lifestyles. Living Streets has been supporting the Watson Community Association Planning Working Group regarding the re-zoning of Sections 76 and 74 in north Watson since 2018. The goal of the WCA Planning Working Group is to ensure that future development best meets the interests of the residents in north Watson and preserves the existing values of this area.

Young people of Living Streets continually support the WCA Planning Group through attending community meetings and rotating a pop-up stall to talk to residents and inform them about what is happening on Section 76.

Attending a community meeting allows young people to experience democracy and develops their social consciousness. Participation in decisions that affect young people, and the life of their community encourages social responsibility.

The ‘Youth-led’ community events not only connects young people to others, but also have given people a sense of belonging in their neighborhood. Children can find playmates in their neighborhood and become friends with them. Young people can develop a cohesive bond among themselves and solidify their friendships through mutual support and having fun together during participation at community events.