Research group recommends community action to create spaces for marginalized youth

The recommendations include creating partnerships with marginalized youth and including their voices in the decision-making process.

From left, Marcel Thomspon, Shauanassey Johnson, Mychi Nguyen, Esha Dabbs, Destiny Coleman, Grace Coleman and Natashia Otiso. Courtesy of Abigail Rombalski .

From left, Marcel Thomspon, Shauanassey Johnson, Mychi Nguyen, Esha Dabbs, Destiny Coleman, Grace Coleman and Natashia Otiso. Courtesy of Abigail Rombalski .

Katelyn Vue

A University of Minnesota youth research project is recommending Minnesota take action to provide accessible spaces in the state to develop kinship and social action for youth that identify as Black, Indigenous and people of color. 

Earlier this month, one of the Youth Participatory Action Research projects at the University’s Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center developed ways to get communities to better involve marginalized youth in community organizations and other youth spaces in Minnesota. 

These recommendations include reflecting and taking action on issues within communities, cultivating a partnership with marginalized youth to sustain kinship and maintaining youth assets and knowledge by including their voices in decision-making. 

YoUthROC is a research team of 17- to 25-year-olds who conduct youth-based research to create accessible, public spaces for marginalized youth. 

“With [Youth Participatory Action Research], those who are closest to the issue are examining the issue,” said Amina Smaller, one of the co-founders of YoUthROC.

From gathering data and interviewing over 200 youths, YoUthROC facilitated multiple workshops in order to give back to these communities. YoUthROC conducted research in urban, suburban and rural areas across the state. 

“We want to make it a point that any community-servicing [organizations], any [organization] that is working in a community has to have youth in their mind …” said Shaunassey Johnson, a YoUthROC co-founder and a University sophomore studying anthropology. “Or else it’s not feeding the whole community.” 

Although COVID-19 resulted in the cancellation of an in-person research reveal at their location in North Minneapolis, the researchers were determined to continue presenting their findings online and making the experience as interactive and youth-oriented as possible. 

YoUthROC aims to make a difference for young people by placing them as community leaders who take social action. Sometime this spring, YoUthROC will release a digital magazine to highlight their research and findings. 

“Being in a space with people that you can make meaningful connections with … makes you feel like you’re a part of something,” said Natashia Otiso, a co-researcher of YoUthROC and a freshman studying sociology of law, criminology and deviance. “And you can make a difference even though you are really young.”