Kids Are the Experts On Youth Experience

Filed Under: Vibrant Community - Posted @ 9:53am

PHOTO: via Lisa Monet Photography


What would you do for kids if you were mayor?

Tacoma’s Mayor Victoria Woodards posed that question to a group of students from Fawcett Elementary School during the Symposium On Our Youngest Citizens, hosted by the Children’s Museum of Tacoma on April 12th. The students spoke with the Mayor and symposium attendees live via video conference from their school .

“No school uniforms – kids need to be able to express their individuality”

“More math homework for all kids”

“Make sports free for kids”

“Reduce the amount of cyber-bullying and physical bullying”

“Free arts programs and free college”

“More events for kids”

The symposium, which the Children’s Museum has hosted annually since 2014, highlighted the concept that kids are the experts on youth experience and that, as a community, we benefit from including youth voice in our planning and decision making.

“It’s unusual for children to be the source of information about themselves” remarked symposium facilitator Jeanne Vergeront, “but seeing children as a source of information about themselves is critical.”


PHOTO: AMP Project Website

The Action Mapping Project (AMP) was highlighted for its efforts to empower youth voice locally.  Overseen by University of Washington Associate Professor Matt Kelley, AMP is currently engaging over 80% of Tacoma’s middle and high school students in developing first-person data and knowledge about youth experiences and perceptions of neighborhood spaces in and around Tacoma.  Data and maps produced by AMP youth community-mappers can be used to inform a host of local municipal and planning-oriented agencies that are engaged in efforts to improve the livability of the city and its neighborhoods.  In addition, participating students learn how to use industry-leading GIS (Geographic Information Systems) software, and are provided pathways to higher education at UW-Tacoma.

Other local youth-centered projects featured at the symposium include:

Skies Unlimited – Offers enrichment classes for children of military families

Silly Slowdowns – A project aimed at slowing traffic and brining attention to pedestrian safety

Tacoma Rescue Mission Preschool Project – A preschool serving children of people experiencing homelessness

Books to Barbershops – A partnership aimed at providing Black and Hispanic barbers with books and strategies to support healthy reading habits for children

Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center – Provides a variety of culturally relevant support services to local children and families.

In addition to giving young people a voice, Tiffany Yvonne, a Community Cultivation Practitioner and partner with Project Child Success, spoke to the important role that parents and caring adults play in helping build a supportive community for children.

“Parents are Primary Influencers & First Teachers.  A committed, caring adult consistently invested long-term in a child is also parenting too.  When we re-imagine relationships and design environments for children, parenting voice then is Necessary. And even further parenting leadership is required. Growing a child-centered community requires this often invisible yet influential parenting voice.”  – Tiffany Y’vonne


GTCF supports high quality Expanded Learning Opportunities for young people throughout Pierce County through grants, funding, and the Youth Philanthropy Board. In addition, GTCF partnered with Tacoma Public Schools and other local organizations in an initiative funded by The Wallace Foundation to provide a system of coordination for Expanded Learning Opportunities at 12 Tacoma elementary schools sites beginning Fall 2018.

GTCF donors support youth and education through scholarships, individual giving, and planned giving. Reach out to GTCF’s donor services to find out how individual philanthropy can make a difference for the causes that matter to you.