Planning, doing and sustaining youth engagement requires a team. You will want to identify an intergenerational and diverse team complete with adult allies, clinical supports, and youth, all of whom play unique and important roles in promoting and supporting youth engagement. The composition of your group will vary depending on the goals of the team. For example, if you’re working towards a youth-led initiative, you’ll likely have a group of youth with fewer adults working as allies. If the team is focused on implementing a clinical evidence-informed practice, you will want to have a mix of youth, family members, and service providers who are working as co-developers, sharing decision-making and accountability. Consider the ratio of youth to adults-- it should make sense within the parameters of each initiative and continually monitor the engagement process. Remember, having a disproportionate amount of youth voice at the table can be tokenizing. It can also be disempowering to have one young person be the voice of their community. Unless a person has been elected by their community, understand that young people speak from their own experience.
Valuing the unique contributions of both youth and adults
In meaningful intergenerational partnerships, both youth and adults are valued for their contributions and expertise. Youth can provide adults with: new energy, creative talents, fresh perspectives, direct access to youth population, up-to-date information on the best ways to reach other youth and knowledge about current challenges facing youth. Adults can provide youth with: opportunities to get involved, resources, mentorship, support, experiential knowledge regarding operations of organization and credibility with other adults and when they take programs out into the community.
Building effective teams
Tuckman’s theory of group 1 development is a widely used model for effective team building. According to Tuckman, teams grow through clearly defined stages, moving from a group of individuals to a cohesive, task-oriented team.
For more on implementing a team, check out the Centre’s e-learning module on teamwork and collaboration.
- 1. Tuckman, 1995