THE TOWNS RUN BY CHILDREN
Self-government is the unique educational approach at the heart of A Chance In Life's programs. More than seventy-five years ago, many of the homeless children Monsignor Carroll-Abbing worked to serve in Rome had become so accustomed to living on their own that they did not want to return to life controlled by authority figures. The challenges of keeping children in any kind of service organization inspired Monsignor to create a new way to relate to the young people – the model of self-government.six
The specifics of self-government take shape differently in each country and work in conjunction with Positive Youth Development (PYD) to better fit the culture and needs of the children. (You can read more about how self-government and PYD work together here.) In each Town, however, self-government and PYD give young people the opportunity to have a voice in creating their future. It gives them the opportunity to take responsibility for their lives, with the freedom to plan, make decisions and experience the risk of making mistakes. They not only learn to think critically, but how to speak out for themselves and those around them. As the Monsignor once said, “It will not be easy to hoodwink these young citizens. They will not be easily misled by subtle propaganda or mere promises. They will be leaders, not sheep, when they go out into the world.”
As we mark more than 75 years of service, we are excited to reaffirm the centrality of self-government and PYD to our mission with the establishment of A Chance In Life's Scientific Committee. The Scientific Committee will serve as an independent advisory board to study the issues of contemporary youth and provide guidance to ensure A Chance In Life's model of self-government best serves the ever-evolving needs of at-risk children in today's world.