Youth involvement can benefit organisations and their activities, as well as the young themselves. Adolescent-led initiatives are more likely to engage the general public and, as a result, have a greater impact. When young people are involved in making decisions that affect them, the likelihood of those decisions being accepted, adopted, and integrated into their everyday lives increases.
Allowing teenagers to perceive and respond to community needs also helps them develop into sensitive, introspective individuals, preparing them to continue this important work in the future. Meaningful youth involvement recognises adolescents as equal participants with adults, expanding youth opportunities in the decision-making process. Adolescents are involved in the development of programmes and activities, rather than being designed for them. In situations like this,
Here are some things to keep in mind when trying to involve young people and make sure the experience is beneficial to both the children and the programme.
Think about where your programme is today and where you want to be in terms of young participation in the future. Level 5 youth cannot or should not be included in every programme or activity. The ability of programme staff to devote time and resources to involving adolescents, the goal of the social enterprise sector, and internal support for youth involvement all have an impact on the level of youth involvement. Youth involvement’s long-term viability is dependent on organisational infrastructure and support for involving adolescents.
Examine your organization’s programming to discover where kid involvement would be most beneficial and feasible. Define why young people should join in the activity of choice. Determine the best way to engage teenagers and the appropriate amount of involvement based on the goal.
Consult with other organisations and agencies that have worked with adolescents in the past to learn how they did it and to get any advice they may have. Collaborating with other youth-focused organisations may help you avoid the problems that others have had with implementation.
Decide how you’ll recruit young people and how you’ll keep them interested throughout the process. All things to consider include how to recruit youngsters who are representative of the population you serve, what abilities and talents the young require, and what training should be provided.
Provide training to all organisation personnel who will be working with youth to ensure that everyone knows the reasoning and aim of partnering with youth, how it will benefit both the programme and the youngsters, and the skills needed to effectively work alongside youth.
Ways to keep youngsters engaged in a programme over its lifespan
In a variety of ways, youth can participate in organisational decision-making frameworks and programme development. Adolescents should be included in projects from the beginning; here are some examples of how and where they could be involved.
The United States Department of Agriculture’s GIS (geographic information system) effort is an example of a needs assessment, in which children identified resources in their communities. After that, the documents were uploaded to a community-wide map, which was used to alert community leaders to any gaps or difficulties. Here’s where you can learn more about Youth Tracking.