ENGAGING YOUTH

Once you have reached young people you must begin engaging them and continue to engage them, just as you would anyone else who you are encouraging to participate in your work. When engaging with volunteers or staff or board members, it is important to continue to motivate them in their work, and to always encourage ongoing and increased participation.

The engagement scale is a great resource for this. Reflect on what steps you can take to encourage your members, volunteers, staff or board members to continue to engage and to increase their level of participation? Remember that not all people will have an interest in or capacity to engage as leaders or champions. Instead, you should ask and assess the interest of each person that becomes involved. Do not try to push people beyond what they are interested in doing.

Review the engagement scale and the “next steps” suggestions and see how these could fit into your model of engagement. Do you host regular events (virtual or in-person) that you can invite people to? Who might it make sense to invite based on who has the potential to scale up their engagement? Do you have gaps in your work that someone might have expertise in or may be interested in gaining skills in?

What are the incentives for youth to continue to become more engaged?It is important to do your best to compensate youth for their participation, whether that is through stipends, transportation compensation, mentorship opportunities, or concrete skill development opportunities. Consider the “Why Youth?” section and think about what you have heard from young people about their interests and wants. If youth have told you that they enjoy the social aspect of their engagement, consider hosting a social gathering with your members, if they enjoy opportunities to participate in in-person meetings or conferences, open up space for them. This is especially important to consider if your network usually sends the same representatives to conferences or even international convenings. If a young person has demonstrated a commitment to the network, an investment in their participation will likely be well worthwhile. They will likely provide different reflections and a different outlook on the experience, and it will be a great investment in their future engagement, not to mention an excellent skills and experience-builder for them, a win all around!

Engage parents, families and communities wherever possible. Youth do not exist in vacuums, they are a part of social networks, communities, and families. Holistic engagement of the networks that they are already a part of is essential in ensuring that your work is culturally and socially relevant. This broader engagement will also support the long-term participation of young people and will help expand your network’s engagement.

When developing your strategy consider that youth are experiencing significant transitionsincluding potentially moving, going to school, finding work and becoming youth alumni. That means that it’s important for you to be prepared to be flexible and adaptable in how youth participate in your work. In addition, you should consider and create a plan for how youth can continue to engage despite these potential changes. Ideally, your youth engagement strategy will fit seamlessly into your overall engagement strategy, in order to ensure that as youth grow, they can continue to grow into their role within your organisation.