Those of us involved in PB know well that for community engagement to be successful, it must be meaningful. People need to know that their participation has an impact. To me, one of the beautiful things about participatory budgeting is that it gives communities the chance to see and feel the material impacts of their participation, to see themselves – sometimes for the first time – as agents of change.
Too often, young people are left out of meaningful decision making in the communities and institutions they’re a part of. Too often, youth are asked to share their experiences but aren’t given any real say over the issues that shape their realities. When the PB Steering Committee and City Council in Vallejo, California, sat down this September to write the rules of the process, they decided that engaging youth was a top priority. Like in the Chicago and New York PBs, they set the voting age at 16 and decided that anyone 14 or over can serve as a Budget Delegate.
By opening up decision-making to young people, participatory budgeting offers tremendous opportunity to develop real youth leadership in our cities, schools, and neighborhoods. If you vote to fund the start-up of our youth campaign, we will bring on board a part-time youth engagement worker to develop new PB materials and curriculum for youth and to build relationships with youth organizations and funders. Through this work, we aim to inspire a new wave of engagement in democracy. In the words of Wanessa De Silva, a 15-year old PB participant in Brazil, “I started playing PB as a game. I liked it so much that I plan to play this game my whole life!”
Give and vote for Youth PB here!