Youth and children are not often the main target of public engagement efforts, but perhaps they should be. Or at very least, more efforts should be made to engage youth in the process.
We had the honour of meeting Stanley King last evening at the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) B.C. Chapter’s AGM. Mr. King is renowned in engagement circles for developing the co-design process that dates back to 1971. Wikipedia defines co-design as “an approach to design attempting to actively involve all stakeholders (e.g. employees, partners, customers, citizens, end users) in the design process to help ensure the result meets their needs and is usable.”
Mr. King shared some ideas with the group about what youth bring to the table when it comes to imagining the future of neighbourhoods, public spaces, schools and more. These are our three favourites:
1) Spaces designed in collaboration with youth become valued spaces. There is a sense of ownership, so youth take an active role in maintaining and caring for the facility or area. Vandalism is reduced and likely eliminated.
2) Youth don’t think or talk in terms of dry, written plans. They can bring “feeling” to the designs, and can more readily imagine the sounds, smells, light and other aspects of the vision.
3) Youth often bring fresh ideas to the dialogue. Mr. King said young people come up with designs that are humane, fun, active, diverse and safe. And if the space will be safe for children, it will be safe for everyone.
For more information on Stanley King and the co-design engagement process, check out the Youth Manual blog and this awesome 1973 National Film Board video of a co-design process in early ‘70s Vancouver.
Also, find out more about the IAP2 B.C. Chapter and how to get involved with its growing network of public engagement professionals here.