What is Youth Engagement?

Youth engagement is:

  • Listening to student ideas and be willing to try them out
  • Involving youth in work that has purpose or is meaningful to them
  • Recognizing that all youth have skills and strengths that can benefit your school or community
  • Involving youth in all stages of planning, not just toward the end
  • Giving youth access to mentors and opportunities to build skills and experiences
  • Having realistic expectations. Consider their life stage and level of experience

A common term in schools is student voice (students having a voice in their learning). Student voice (external link) is a component of youth engagement.

When working with youth, it is important to:

  • Involve all youth
    • Involve youth of different cultural backgrounds, level of school engagement, age, grade, gender, sexual orientation, etc. No single youth can speak for all youth.
  • Recognize youth as valued partners
    • Value youth perspective, skills, knowledge and experience. Recognize mutual gains for everyone. Adults have life experience that can benefit youth; youth bring fresh ideas and energy.
    • Involve youth in decision making
      • Share decision-making between adults and youth with youth having equal voting power with adults
      • Address issues youth believe to be important
        • Do not limit their involvement to just “youth issues.” Ask them what they care about and how they wish to be involved.
        • Create opportunities for youth
          • Continually look at ways to involve youth, get their feedback, build skills and put their ideas into action.
          • Give youth a sense of ownership
            • A sense of ownership, pride and responsibility increases youth engagement, sense of belonging, and success at school.
            • Give youth a say in matters that affect them
              • Youth should have a say in matters affecting them. Their involvement will result in better outcomes.

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