What is a credible messenger? In this informal, virtual event led and facilitated by AYPF’s Youth Policy Consultants, the discussion began with reviewing what we mean by “credible messengers”.
“Credible messengers are people with lived expertise helping young people as they navigate similar circumstances. These individuals build intentional mentoring relationships.”
Credible messengers are often referred to as peer navigators and peer support specialists. But the essence of their work and purpose are the same.
Historically, credible messengers have referred to mentors who were formerly incarcerated, helping others successfully transition back into their communities. AYPF and its Youth Policy Consultants are interested in expanding the use of credible messengers, whether they be in the areas of child welfare, K-12 education, college/university, homelessness, mental health services, or the youth legal system.
Credible messengers can make a tremendous impact on youth – preventing system involvement or helping youth who are already system-impacted to transition out successfully – and thereby, as one attendee expressed, “heal and transform sick systems.”
This discussion provided a space to connect with others doing similar work and an opportunity to learn from one another and explore ideas on how to improve and expand the use of credible messengers.
A few takeaways:
- The group referred to credible messengers as “powerful” and “healing,” as “guides,” “guardians,” “giants,” and “heroes.”
- Those present expressed an interest in credible messengers who can empathize, live life authentically, help meet youths’ tangible needs, uplift and not condescend, and offer more than a one-sided relationship.
- The group discussed the opportunities that may exist to create a well-resourced and supported credible messengers program in schools, colleges, child welfare systems, youth legal systems, and elsewhere.
- Those present also discussed the challenges to doing that and how to avoid or overcome those challenges.
Thank you to everyone who participated – the shared insights, successes, and challenges from your lives and work were greatly appreciated. We look forward to staying connected, and your voices were heard!
AYPF plans to hold additional conversations on credible messengers in the coming months. To be added to the community attending these events, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.