My name is Liban Mohamed, and I am the founder of the Youth Voices Project (YVP). Having amassed over eight years of work experience in both the public and private sector in the fields of civil and transportation engineering, and as a planner since 2018, I have not only observed the limitations of the participatory methods, but seen the social element of urban planning absent in projects.
In a Major Research Paper titled Youth Participation in Transportation Planning: The City of Toronto’s Youth Engagement Strategy (see below) I submitted to the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada for the degree of Master in Environmental Studies, I argued the misconception that youth of today are not concerned with transportation planning. I stated that the traditional adult-oriented method to transportation planning have served the youth by default, and this is very concerning. I noted that the youth deserve to be invited into the decision-making process as well as informed as to the impact of their participation. To conclude, I made known that we cannot call for youth participation if that participation does not have meaning. Youth participation is a promise we make to young people. Their idealism, strength, and creativity are a gift to us, and we need to treat it as such.
To augment the Youth Engagement Strategy done by the City of Toronto in 2015, I have remade the study to apply the recommendations I suggested on the Major Paper. In this manner, YVP through an annual scholarship award will publish an academic paper to understand the concerns, barriers/challenges of Somali youth and provide not only support but provide essential planning knowledge and skills to encourage positive civic engagement in city planning.