November 2, 2011

Empowering Young Adults: Young Adult Parliaments

Although nearly 40% of Israelis are young adults, few opportunities exist for their social and civic involvement. JDC's Young Adult Parliaments aim to change this situation by providing young adults with the means to take effective action to improve their communities. Dimona is just one community that has benefited from this injection of young energy and compassion.

The residents of Dimona – an impoverished town in the south of Israel – struggle to cope with the limited local resources and services. The town’s young adults who choose to build their future in Dimona find it hard to improve their environment, leaving them feeling powerless and disconnected.

Dimona’s Young Adult Parliament has changed this. As the town’s young people have come to understand community needs and how to work with local leadership, they have led focused lobbying and civic action campaigns and brought about concrete solutions.

For example, in less than a year they have transformed local transport services – solving a longstanding obstacle for residents. When the parliament set out to address the lack of bus routes offered in the city it faced indifference from the management of the national bus company and opposition from local taxi drivers. Ignoring these obstacles, young parliament members engaged the public, obtaining over 3,000 signatures of support from local residents in a petition sent to the National Minister of Transportation. Their lobbying effort resulted in a five-fold increase in the number of bus lines and routes, saving impoverished residents significant costs in taxi fares.

Young Adult Parliaments empower and engage 18-30 year olds to take active roles in the social, economic and political life of their communities. Parliaments bring together a representative group of local young adults from a given geographical area to address key issues on the public agenda, from education and employment, to housing and transportation. Parliament members act as a lobby and social action group to improve the quality of life for themselves and their communities.

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