Empowering youth to share their voices
As the Capital Region National Day of Prayer steering committee prepared for this year's annual event in Washington, D.C., Dr. Corinthia Boone knew this year would be different than the previous 32 years she'd served as chairperson.
After she attended World Vision's U.S. Programs Youth Empowerment Institute (YEI) training last fall, Dr. Boone felt convicted to add an element to the May 5 event that had been missing in years past: youth involvement.
"[YEI] gave me an attitude change," says Boone. "I began to hear that this generation has ideas. They had a grip on their culture, and they were just waiting to be released, to be accepted, and not just be an afterthought."
YEI training includes preparing young people to partner with supporting organizations and other local stakeholders to collectively transform their community. Boone invited young adult advocates from the National Capital Region to partner with the steering committee for this year's Capital Region National Day of Prayer, which included a pre-gathering intergenerational dialogue, youth corporate prayer opportunities, and prayer stations for individual prayer.
"We put into action what we'd learned at YEI: partnership, connecting with [youth], listening, and giving a platform of expression and freedom to add to the movement," says Boone. "From the beginning to the end, YEI [participants were] very much represented, and they felt they were equal partners with us."
Jonathan Wade, a graduate of World Vision's Youth Empowerment Program, was invited to participate as the facilitator for the intergenerational dialogue—a discussion between millennials and senior leaders—which was held at the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C.
The 23-year-old graduate student at Howard University School of Divinity was initially apprehensive about mediating a conversation between generations, but says it was a positive experience with an outcome of transparency.
"It gave [the] young people the opportunity to express their truth, and I think it gave [the] adults a perspective that allows young people to have more credibility," he says.
Boone endorsed a reverse-mentoring approach that allows young adults to mentor senior leaders on how to best connect with their generation.
"It is much needed in a world where youth feel misunderstood and are culturally misdiagnosed," says Bathsheba Smithen, a young adult panelist. "Not only did I enjoy being a panelist, but I walked away feeling empowered."
Michael Worsley, World Vision's engagement officer in the National Capital area, helped coordinate the young adults' involvement in the event.
"The whole youth mission piece was very successful," says Worsley. "It created a platform and momentum that can be built on."