The municipality works with many parties in the city and the district Tilburg- North to create opportunities for young people. But do we know these young people enough to do this well? What do we know about the world of young people today; specifically in Tilburg-North? At the symposium participants were taken into the minds and world of youngsters today.
Jan Dirk de Jong, who lectures on the (governmental) approach to Juvenile Crime, told us that young people have little faith in the government and lack good prospects. Youth policies and the dialogue on youngsters also tends to focus on the negative; on what is wrong and what is not possible, instead of the positive.
Our approach should be more positive and should focus on inclusion and identity. It should be about ‘I belong and I matter’, more than anything else. And it is imperative that this approach and perspective on youth is real and sincere. De Jong also stressed the importance of being present. Be there where the youngsters are. So be out there on the streets with the youngsters, connect with them and see the neighborhood through their eyes. Be present online. That’s where most young people spend hours every day.
Talent from the street
Maike Kooijmans then discussed the importance of art and sport for identity development and how it helps build resilient people. Maike outlines a problem of our time, living in an enormous performance society. It's all about scores and comparing yourself to others. Take our education system for instance, with citoscores to determine what level of high school education a teenager should take.
If your score is low, you will always be told that you are not doing well. Young people often compensate by expressing negative talents among themselves on the street.
According to Maike’s research, youth workers are important to counteracting temptations that young people find on the streets. Youth workers are able to positively influence and stimulate talent in young people. But doing that requires trust.
Sport, culture & art can certainly contribute to young people having that feeling of being successful at something. They can see that they excel at something and be admired for their talents. But for this it is important that they feel part of a community. Projects therefore cannot succeed without pedagogical guidance and trust. For this the youth worker is essential. Because, unlike teachers, they do not have a role as an ‘assessor’ of performance. They only have a guiding role.
It is also very important to hold back judgement. Don't immediately react to what you see at how young people present themselves and how they appear to you. Make an effort to experience their world. Then you will know them well, you have trust, and you can work on creating prospects for them and have them experience success based on their talents.