Thursday, 16 July 2009

mixed blessing

The nature of youth participation in the CEC assembly is a mixed blessing. On the one hand it is fantastic that young people are being encouraged to participate as young delegates or stewards. It’s great that they are given opportunities to encourage each other, to share ideas and experiences, to create friendships. It is also very encouraging that it is recognised how important the youth are to the future of CEC. On the other hand the approach taken towards the youth can emphasize the differences rather than the similarities between young(er) and old(er). It risks reinforcing the distinction and not facilitating mutual respect and proper engagement and dialogue between people of different ages.
Some of the comments made in the plenary hall this morning showed how young people can be seen as a separate group that thinks and acts in different ways. Of course there are differences that should be recognized, celebrated and accommodated, but as with any demographical group, the similarities are much more important. If young people are to be able to fully participate in and contribute to the work of CEC, they must be recognised as full and equal partners.

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