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Matthew commented on The man who inspired Ray Charles

Thank you "old friend" for your post. Enjoyed your framing. On the one hand we could summarize this insight as "mentorship" about which there have been several other posts but you seem to have brought out something else that is critical - and it seems that David K. below (or will it be above after I post?) has keyed onto it. The twin demographic challenge of youth and longer lifespans - much has been written about both.

See this interview with Paul Irving about the "upside of aging":

http://www.nextavenue.org/article/2014-06/bright-spots-and-challenges-growing-older

We have the example of the man who inspired Ray Charles. Are there any examples of programs that have tied these two demographic challenges together?

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Matthew commented on Voiceless

Wambui, thanks for your post. The key insight is critical - seek input from the youth. But as I read your vignette shows, there seems to be this and several other lessons:

(1) What instigating the reach out was a social event - following the mother's funeral. It brought people in the community together and this "forced" social interaction led to them being heard. This begs the question: Is it possible to create or take advantage of existing "social events" or rituals to create spaces for youth to be heard?

(2) Simply listening to the youth does at least two things: (a) It gives them recognition. It makes them heard. This is the first step in offering dignity. (b) The youth can also give you not only information about the specific issues they face but more importantly possible solutions. They are a source of ideas.

(3) Cutting across generations via a project: At least thee generations - both living and dead came together. The mother who taught the youth in a way "convened" everyone at the funeral. The daughter listened and used the construction of the factory as a way to both give them the chance to contribute productively but also used it as an opportunity to address larger drug/alcohol issues. However, you also mentioned that she worked with the parents and relatives of these youth as well. Just as the community brought people together initially the building of the factory created a space to cut across generations. It really did take a village.

(4) There may be a lesson in understanding how the woman involved the parents and relatives in the community. Do you know?

I'm sure there are more lessons. Though short, this is such a rich post. It makes me think of the power of structuring social events to convene people across generations to listen to youth and then how whatever happens in this event can lead to the creation of, in this case economic, project that offers for the youth and the community so much more than just short-term employment ...