Integrating youth voice in urban planning
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For the last three decades, scholars have shared consensus that youth have a place in participatory planning. Practitioners and cities seem to echo these sentiments as well. However, planning that involves youth often does not involve authentic participation but instead evokes tokenization. This paper argues that efforts fall short due to unexamined assumptions of adults regarding youth capability. This report utilizes Hart’s Ladder of Child Participation as a tool to conceptualize and create dialogue around the reach of four different types of programs that seek to engage youth in the democratic process. The four case studies included in this report are a civic engagement program, democratic high schools, youth councils and a youth participatory budgeting program. Each program interviewed fundamentally questions common perceptions of youth. This report concludes that meaningful participation can only be achieved through adults’ self-reflection on internal biases regarding youth. Optimistically, it seems that the work of a few adults can pave the way for larger cultural change which normalizes and codifies youth participation.