“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.” – Margaret Mead
Civic participation refers to participating in your community to develop it with the help of your knowledge, skills and values, to make a difference in your society. The goal of civic participation is to raise the standard and quality of life in your community, through commitment and motivation. Young people are considered very important in civic participation, because they bring new and innovative ideas!
Civic participation can be seen as a continuous activity, because citizens are responsible for developing communities according to their beliefs and values. Civic participation requires active citizenship, which is a combination of knowledge, skills, attitudes and actions to build a healthy society. An active citizen is prepared to take action and participate to create a safe, healthy and sustainable community. Examples of civic participation can be; voting, becoming educated about your country, being informed about local and national news, joining or supporting a political party, volunteering, taking part in a public demonstration, etc. Also young people can be part of these activities, because they too have knowledge and skills to make their society better!
An important aspect of civic participation is critical reflection. This means that while you may love your community and society, you can still see the problems in it and are willing to address them. You can listen to community beliefs and values and assess them critically rather than taking them for granted. For good civic participation, it is important to recognise that others hold beliefs and values that may be different from yours or those of your community.
Civic participation is important because it teaches us how to live and work together, appreciating different opinions, values and beliefs in a tolerant manner. Through civic participation you become aware of difficulties, social problems and moral questions in your society, and are aware that there are possibilities to change and build a community. Only through active citizenship do people get involved in their communities to change for a better future.
Think about what civic participation means to you, and write down at least 3 examples of how you believe you are an active citizen. If you don’t know something about yourself immediately, you can also write down some examples you have seen from others in your community! Or examples of things you would like to do – think about what you feel are the problems you would like to change in your community, and how you could address them.