Lessons with Youth Participants in Mikva Challenge
Play • 33 min

This episode features a series of comments and reflections and perspectives on the power of youth voice in helping young adolescents figure out what they care about and who they are, and the worth they see in themselves. First, we hear from Juleny Santa Cruz, Youth Council and Project Manager for Mikva Challenge, a Chicago-based organization that pioneered a type of experiential civics learning programming they call “action civics.” We also hear from researchers and program professionals from the University of Virginia’s Youth-Nex Center for Effective Youth Development: Abby Gillespie, Director of Strategy and Engagement, and postdoctoral research associates Faith Zabek and Ashlee Sjogren. Together, they share the core elements of the Mikva program as well as some of the broader research base on youth voice, calling out its importance in early adolescent development, the role of educators in making room for and amplifying youth voice, and setting up learning environments where youth voice can be elevated to authentic youth participation. We then mostly hear from young people. Ten young adolescents - Hailey, Da’una, Amya, Nelly, Liz, Honesty, Michelle, Xitlali, Luis, and Laurice - talk about their experiences participating in the Mikva Challenge program. They share how Mikva offers a venue for them to engage in issues important to them and their community, for fostering positive relationships, and for developing confidence and a positive self concept. 

Additional Readings and Resources

Remaking Middle School is launching a Middle School Listening Tour! If you are a parent, teacher, administrator, youth development professional, policy maker, or youth advocate of middle grade students, we would love to hear from you. Please visit http://RemakingMiddleSchool.org and click “Sign Up” for the Listening Tour.

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