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from: Youth Engagement for Planners
What Makes Good Youth Engagement

Crowdsourcing Planners' Stories about Youth Engagement

We are looking for a paragraph or two outlining your experience in any of the scenarios below. If you have text already written, great!! Also great, if you are willing to put something together to share your story.

Your name will be posted as the author of this side story.

  • Goals changed in your youth engagement project; how did you adapt? 

  • Personnel changed in your youth engagement project; how did you adapt?

  • Timeline changed in your youth engagement project; how did you adapt?

  • Intentions challenged: how did you avoid tokenism if your supervisor wasn’t as keen as you are to implement authentic youth engagement?

    • For each of the above, in what way(s) were you able to continue and succeed? 

    • What learnings can you pass on to other planners?

Five Principles Underlying Authentic Youth Engagement

  • Curiosity: Youth engagement is dynamic. t is not a static process but one where the particulars of time, place, and participants shape the process. Each youth contributes to the process by bringing their lived experience and observations, and an open attitude encourages all to learn from each other. Allow for a wide range of methods for youth to give feedback to policy makers (e.g. video, drama, graffiti wall). It wants to be fun, exciting, and relevant.

  • Agency: Youth engagement empowers. Clearly outlined goals and parameters for youth input help to set realistic expectations and avoid tokenism, while transparency to follow up with feedback during and after the decision-making adds meaning. While youth can be active partners in the research process, it is their contributions, rather than strengthening existing and emerging skills, that is critical. 

  • Inclusivity: Youth engagement is respectful. Inclusivity often means actively going out of the regular spaces and seeking participation from underrepresented, vulnerable, and disadvantaged young people by being inclusive of race, gender, and economic disadvantage. Those who do participate may not be immediately comfortable with traditional community engagement methods so patience and listening are important, and acronyms should be avoided. The time of a youth participant is no less valuable than an adult’s. 

  • Identity: Youth engagement cultivates passion. Youth participants can be deeply motivated when they feel personally connected and represented within the project. Their concerns and priorities come from direct experience and therefore bring value to a planning project. However, community processes—speaking in public, meeting in unfamiliar surroundings—may seem daunting, so check-ins and de-briefs are helpful. Consult the youth participants about including other family members as appropriate.

  • Support: Youth engagement has a social component. It takes time to cultivate relationships and trust; which are essential for building a safe space with open channels of communication, maintaining social cohesion, and demonstrating that you care. Each participant arrives as an individual with their own needs for accessibility, emotional comfort, and acceptance (i.e. acknowledging pronouns is important). Youth today face stressors from family, friends, school, and societal demands. They may face transportation barriers in getting to your events and meeting, and as volunteers, they should always feel free to opt-out.

(Erosa 2024; Roark 2024; Youth Power 2023; Urban Minds 2022, 14-18, 41; Vokes et al 2019; Holley 2016; Derr et al., 2013, p. 499; Orsini 2013; Scottish Executive’s Action Programme for Youth 2009, 9; Percy-Smith 2006, 166; Ministry of Youth Development Aotearoa 2004)​​

Current Q about YEP
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