Lynne Seeley, GrowSmart Maine Board Member
What if…..we ask kids what they want from their community? What if…..we ask kids what they think their community should offer in the future? What if.….we listen, really listen, to what they say? What if….we give them a seat at the table when we are meeting to talk about the future of our communities? What if…..we make them part of the conversation? We just might find, that good things happen! As we heard in Millbridge, “KIDS BRING LIFE”.
In Standish, as part of the youth involvement in the Model Town project, GrowSmart Maine engaged students from the Edna Libby and George E. Jack schools to help in planning for Standish’s future. GrowSmart Maine developed a survey to involve the elementary school students. Youth ideas on outdoor spaces, fun places to have in a village center, and what students like about Standish, and what they would like to change, provided important information to help make Standish a welcoming and fun place for youth. Youth have valuable perspectives on community life. YOUTH ARE A RESOURCE.
Today’s youth are tomorrow’s potential community leaders. Engaging with them today, brings greater promise and opportunity for tomorrow. To engage with them, to get them to care about their community today, and tomorrow, we need to ask them about their community. Ask them what works, what doesn’t, what matters, what’s missing, what to do to make it better. By asking, and listening, we let them know KIDS MATTER. Because they do.
Our communities thrive when people of all ages feel like they matter and feel like they belong, starting with our youth. If kids feel like they matter, then they want to contribute. And when they want to contribute, they bring their parents along. It’s often a “twofer”, if KIDS CONTRIBUTE, parents contribute. Strong communities depend on people who want to contribute.
So next time you are talking about your community’s future, your kids’ future community, why not ASK KIDS what they think? Kids are an important part of our communities. Kids ARE the future. I am reminded of the saying “nothing about us without us”. By asking kids, you just might find, good things happen!