Youth in Planning (YIP)

Reaching the Future: Centering Youth in Community Engagement

Think of a place you know. What do you do there? Who do you interact with? What do you see? How do you feel in that place and why? These are just a few of the questions planners have used to get youth thinking about what makes places livable and how their ideas can influence decisions to make cities better places for all.

Planners in Washington and Oregon have begun engaging youth in the updates to their Comprehensive Plans. Using interactive discussions, questionnaires, and games, planners have developed a range of activities to make planning exciting and fun. In addition to participating, youth have also gone on to lead outreach activities in their schools expanding the number of ideas generated from the youngest as well as the most ethnically diverse cohort of the population. Join the interactive session at 1:00 pm on Thursday, October 13 during the APA-WA conference to experience these activities first hand, hear lessons learned from planners across the state plus over the OR border, and bring along your ideas and examples to share.

Teachers recognize and appreciate the value of applying real world, place-based planning issues in their classrooms as well. Planning issues help teachers create authentic learning experiences for students to investigate the world, recognize their own and other’s perspectives, communicate their ideas, and take action to improve their communities. These skills build global competence and develop civic mindedness. Connecting the dots between learning objectives and planning can seem daunting, but it does not have to be. Planners will also share their experiences building relationships with school educators to form mutually beneficial partnerships. 

 During their Leadership Institute, Bellevue School District administrators grapple with how to create a land plan for transforming the Factoria neighborhood, an exercise part of new curriculum incorporating planning.

Engaging youth in planning provides planners with the opportunity to introduce youth to the planning profession itself. Describing planners as people who look at the big picture, focus on the future, and involve the community to understand how land is used to benefit people, illustrates how meaningful the planning profession can be. Highlighting the variety of areas to focus – building and construction, housing, transportation, parks, and/or environmental sustainability and stewardship – helps youth appreciate the diverse possibilities within the profession. Also, including details about the profession from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook including median pay, typical entry level education, and job outlook, makes the profession seem all the more real, valid, and worthy of consideration.

Youth provide unique and fresh voices to the dialogue about creating great places. They also represent our future, including the future of our profession. The YIP Task Force aims to raise youth awareness of the importance of their voice to help inform our future and to provide resources for teachers, planners, and public officials to engage youth in planning processes that will generate lasting value. For more information about the Youth in Planning Task Force’s work, please join our session at the conference, go to the Youth in Planning webpage, and/or contact the Task Force Co-Chairs Gwen Rousseau ([email protected]), Steve Butler ([email protected]), and Stephanie Velasco ([email protected]).