How to Promote Youth Engagement in Organizations
1) Share Youth Engagement.
- Talk with your supervisor, Executive Director, board members, and other decision-makers.
- Build support by talking to staff members about youth engagement.
- Train young people about youth engagement, why it matters, and how they can experience it more.
- Research resources that might help different people in different roles throughout your organization understand youth engagement more.
- Pass along useful websites, materials, and other info with people who care or need to know.
2) Advocate Action.
- Explore policy-making in your organization, and advocate for changes that reflect a commitment to sustained youth engagement through programs and throughout the organization.
- Create an action plan that focuses on sustained programs and projects.
- Be a constant and strong champion for youth engagement throughout your program or organization.
3) Facilitate Approaches.
- Remember Gandhi's idiom, "Be the change you want to see in the world." If you want youth engagement in your program or organization, start engaging youth personally right now.
- Start leading activities and programs that foster youth engagement right now. Build youth engagement on the personal level for young people, then solidify it throughout your organization.
- Strengthen your knowledge about youth engagement and then facilitate opportunities for others to learn about it.
4) Critique and Examine Outcomes.
- Create safe space to engage diverse youth and adults in critical thinking and cultural examinations.
- Actively engage young people and adults in frank, open conversations about the activity, program, or organization.
- Ask questions that inquire further into peoples' assumptions or beliefs, and foster new understanding through having everyone share their experiences and opinions as applicable.
- Ask hard questions about beliefs, understanding, and outcomes.
- Examine new opportunities to talk change.
5) DO IT AGAIN!
When you travel through each of these steps, you'll find a variety of awards for your hard work, including youth retention, re-engagement, and much more.
Where These Came From
Recently, I've been working with a group of traditional, mainline youth-serving organizations. They offer services to young people living in adverse situations, including homelessness, family disruptions, addiction, and other circumstances. The activities generally fall into the realms of intervention, education, and employment.
Working with them to establish new approaches to their work, I have been slowly introduce my conceptual frameworks focused on youth engagement, especially how I wrote about the subject in my publication, A Short Introduction to Youth Engagement. When I wrote the Short Intro..., I intentionally didn't cover many important aspects of moving forward with the concept. Here's one area that wasn't addressed.
These are steps that I've followed for more than a decade as I've taught, trained, advocated for, and lived through many, many youth engagement programs and projects. They're also what I'm using right now to help others promote this vital concept, too.
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you would add, take out, or challenge in the comments section below.
- The Freechild Project Youth Engagement Workshop Handbook
- A Short Introduction to Youth Engagement
- The Freechild Project Community Youth Engagement portal
- Principles of Authentic Youth Engagement by Adam Fletcher