The program is targeted to youth aged 13-18. To date, EYPC has been successfully implemented by educators, club advisors, youth group leaders, and others using policy to create healthy communities.
Through the EYPC process, facilitators guide youth to:
- Identify the change that they or their community desires
- Learn about the workings of local governing bodies
- Engage friends, neighbors, and business leaders in their efforts
- Communicate with elected officials to enact change
By engaging youth directly in a collaborative community-based change effort, EYPC aims to give young people the skills, confidence, and experience they need to become effective advocates for positive social change.
Meeting Learning Standards Through Civic Engagement
EYPC can help educators to meet the standards for service learning projects by providing a framework for integrating student voice, community engagement, and policy advocacy into the academic setting.
In Illinois, high school students are required to complete a semester-long course in civics that “shall help young people acquire and learn to use the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives” (ILCS 5/27-22(e)(5)).
Service learning projects, integrated into curriculum instruction, allow students to apply their knowledge to serve and contribute to bettering their community through meaningful action. The criteria of service-learning project — preparation, action, and reflection — are reflected throughout the EYPC program.
See Illinois Social Science Standards for a complete description of how the EYPC program serves as an implementation of Illinois social science curriculum.
The EYPC Framework
EYPC combines two, often separate but important endeavors: youth civic engagement and changing or improving public policy for a whole community. As such, the EYPC framework is based on strategic elements of community organizing and policy development work.
The EYPC curriculum includes a variety of activities within each of these elements that are hands-on, interactive, team-oriented, and fast-paced.
Ultimately, youth involved in EYPC will bring about positive change in their community by exploring an issue and the change they want to make, engaging in data collection and analysis to develop their message, spreading their work and engaging the community in support, and working with decision-makers to enact real change.
Flexibility: a Key Feature
The EYPC program was designed as a framework to organize the policy change process and corresponding civic education while providing the flexibility for implementation across a wide range of settings, skill levels, and timelines. Facilitators are able to select and sequence the activities to best fit the policy issue that the youth have chosen in the time and meeting space available to them.
EYPC was developed at the Center for Prevention Research and Development with funding from the Illinois Department of Human Services under the leadership of developer Scott Hays, PhD.