The Future is Talking is a new nation-wide podcast series focused on youth leadership, equity and justice, and is led by YPI Canada’s 7-member Student Advisory Committee (SAC). SAC members are themselves between 15-19 years old, each a recent YPI alumni at their high schools across the country.
The intention of this podcast series, as articulated by SAC members:
“Our hope is to educate, to inform, and to inspire a new way of understanding youth leadership, and how to show up for students, teachers, and communities in ways that are respectful to, and meaningful for us.”
This intention begins with the name of the podcast itself.
1) The Future
The reference to the future in the podcast name is in part a callback to the well-worn rhetoric that “children are the future.” Rhetoric aside, however, how often do the children that are supposedly our future have authentic opportunities to weigh in on what that future looks like? Beyond inspirational speeches by figureheads that call on “giving young people a voice” and photos of smiling children accompanying policy proposals ahead of AGMs and elections, how often do we actually make space for and afford legitimacy to youth voice? Building on the disability justice movement’s guiding principle of “nothing about us, without us,” The Future is Talking calls on us to reach beyond rhetoric, beyond talking about youth, and towards listening to and being led by youth.
It also invites us to do so in a way that is not tokenistic. “Youthwashing” – a term coined by Eilidh Robb and the UK Youth Climate Coalition – is the act of tokenizing youth for personal/organizational gain (e.g. PR reasons). It is an act of using youth to convey messaging, rather than creating meaningful space to amplify the youth voice.” More on this is covered in our post around adult allyship in the podcast series .
2) The Talking
The Future is Talking is also intentionally dissonant to the expression ‘children should be seen and not heard.’ An old English proverb, dating from the 15th century, it equates well-behaved children to quiet children, while pathologizing children and youth who are “loud”, “boisterous” and “disruptive.” Ironically, it is this same system that is quick to label youth as “disengaged” and “apathetic” when they refuse to engage within the boundaries the system has defined as appropriate. In a world that engages the youth voice as is convenient and at volumes that do not disturb the status quo, The Future is Talking aims to be a space where youth can express themselves in the ways, and about the topics, that feel most relevant and resonant to them.
3) The Invitation
The Future is Talking is an assertion and an invitation. We are extending this invitation to everyone, especially students and young people, teachers, educators, administrators and those who work in supporting and amplifying youth voices across multiple sectors (e.g. education, philanthropy, non-profit / charitable sector, etc.). Inherent in this invitation is a question: The future is talking – are we listening?
Facilitate (literally: make easier) opportunities that resource and center authentic youth voice to ensure more conversations about our shared future are informed, shaped, and led by young people with lived experience around the issues they want to talk about.