Youth Voice at M3!

Friday, January 25th marked Sprockets’ third M3 huddle of the 2018-2019 Activator Cycle. Being a non-school day, several youth-serving organizations were able to engage their young people in the day long workshop of digging into data. Two of those organizations were the Wilder Youth Leadership Initiative and Cookie Cart--St. Paul.

The Wilder Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI) has been bringing youth to M3 for the past few years. Part of YLI’s work includes youth participatory evaluation (YPE), an approach that engages young people in the evaluation of programs and organizations. Though this team was fairly familiar with data and evaluation walking in, the YPE team pointed out how much they still didn’t get to and how quickly the day-long process went by. “We spent so much time talking about the high/lows of our program and didn’t really get to make as much meaning or get into what’s next. But I felt that talking about those highs/lows was super important” shared one YPE youth. Though the constant movement of M3 sometimes made it difficult for the YPE team to fully ground themselves in the data, the group made sure to always provide space for each person to share their thoughts throughout the process. And most importantly, for everyone to have fun! The YPE team hopes that in the next year, Sprockets will find ways for M3 to be more inclusive of groups to who value a lof of time for reflection and conversation. 

With only a year at their St. Paul location, this was the Cookie Cart’s youth cart captains first year attending an M3. While the Cookie Cart youth expressed not really knowing what to expect from M3, they enjoyed participating in the exhausting, but important process of analyzing data. As one Cookie Cart youth shared, “I wanted to go because I it’s important for youth voice to be present. Adults don’t always understand our experiences as youth and as youth employees. So youth should always be there when it’s about us.”  The Cookie Cart youth crew also appreciated connecting with the other programs in the room and learning about the different things they're up to. The Cookie Cart crew hopes that Sprockets will continue to improve the welcoming environment of M3, adding music and color, and making sure just as many, or more, young people are present in the space as adults.  

For both of these groups, the conversations that began at M3 are still happening, as they continue to revisit their data and ideas to build an improvement plan that will guide their next steps. Both groups also provided feedback to Sprockets on how they can continue improving M3 for all programs and people, especially young people. With the end of the afterschool year quickly approaching, many of the young people from the YPE team and Cookie Cart crew may not actually see those next steps take place. But as the Cookie Cart youth crew reflected, “We might not see those changes, but change has to start somewhere. And it’s good that improvement will happen even after we’re gone.” 

Thanks to everyone who attended an M3 and joined Sprockets in making meaning of data!