Sharing Experiences and Promoting Equity

Staff should create a safe place for youth to share, listen, express intense emotions, and process conflicting views.

Part of what makes a space safe is setting norms or ground rules for sharing. At Voyageur Outward Bound School (VOBS), youth are given tools to talk about how they’re feeling and talk about how the tough things that have affected them and kind of the lessons that they’ve learned from those things. They may be given a specified amount of time to share their story.

At YWCA Boston (YW Boston), “Real talk is uncensored, but they can’t share emotions in a way that will hurt others.” Youth are taught about using “I-statements” instead of “you statements.”

When asked to explain what makes the space feel safe enough to share, one youth from The Possibility Project (TPP) talked about the importance of not judging what others are saying:

Quote markIt’s like magic. I know it sounds very cliché and all that cheesy stuff, but I feel like there’s a way to make it happen. It’s just telling somebody that it’s okay and I’m not going to judge you. And it sounds easy but it’s really hard. Because when I went in, I thought laughing at everything and making everything seem like it’s okay, it’s gonna be okay, but like I didn’t realize how much shit I went through until everybody started talking. I was like, “Damn, we some fucked up kids!” But everybody’s messed up in their own way. It’s just how you go about it. And that’s one thing that I learned. Because people are so scared of talking because they feel like they’re going to get judged.

Further Reading

Join the Discussion

How does your program create a safe space that doesn’t feel too restrictive to youth?