Is the term ‘young person’ negative?

In one of our steering meetings we decided to have a discussion about the term ‘young people’ which is often used to describe us, a group of 15 – 25 year olds, and also those who attend the events (in the same age bracket) we take part in organising at the gallery. Only one out of 10 of us saw the term as a positive description and that person was me.


I understood where the rest of the group were coming from when they said they had an issue with the word ‘young’ being used to describe those on the higher end of the 15 – 25 year old age range.

The majority of the group agreed that it made them sound ‘inexperienced’ and reminded them of school. They also said it ‘undermined everything we do’. My view is that we should keep the term ‘young person’ and turn it into something with more positive connotations.

However, others said they would not refer to themselves as a ‘young person’ and said they don’t want to be labelled by their age. However, as another member pointed out, we need ‘something to write down’ in order for people to know who’s involved and who events are targeted for.

We discussed the possible use of words such as ‘community’ and ‘collective’ and, although the response to this was positive, we agreed the word ‘young’ would have to creep in somehow for things to make sense eg ‘young community’ or ‘young collective’.

This discussion/debate may sound like a never-ending one, but it’s so important to question the language we use with the aim of getting as many ‘young people’ involved in creative, social events as possible, to break down the stereotypes some may have about galleries and artistic spaces.

Jas Lucas 18