Participation - Coyote - Issue # 14

Hello readers!

In many ways, participation underpins much if not all of what I think of as Youth Work, and of non-formal learning. People (young or otherwise) grow and develop when they are engaged - when they participate, and likewise, communities, societies, associations and informal groups, also grow and develop when people participate in them.

For me, a significant experience of participation as a young person was taking the lead in a group, heading off into the wilderness of northern Canada and learning how to deal with challenging environments and challenging behaviour from some of my colleagues. The impact of that trip on my adult life was huge: Amongst other things, I learnt about decision making, about representation and the relationship between responsibility and authority – competencies that I’ve tried to use ever since. One key thing that strikes me about the experience was being trusted with the opportunity: Funders, academics, parents all placed a level of trust in me. At the time I would have said the expedition happened because of our initiative – but the reality was that others provided the environment for that initiative to flourish.

It is perhaps ironic that there are no articles in this issue written by young people. Writing something might have been perceived as a method of participation in the development of thinking about participation (if you see what I mean!) – and maybe we should have tried harder to find those contributors. But the many articles that are included here are insights from those who currently create the environment for participation: Insights from people who work face to face with young people, from those who develop or influence policy, from those who research the needs and evaluate the outcomes. Given that issue 14 is so large, I do hope that you will find some articles that will inspire you, some that will develop your understanding, some that will challenge you and some that will make you smile!

In this issue we wanted to acknowledge the tenth anniversary of the first Partnership (Covenant) on youth worker training between the Council of Europe and the European Commission. Hanjo Schild’s article gives us a great overview of the history of the Partnership and the whole magazine reflects, I believe, much of the work now being carried on.