The purpose of youth engagement is to enhance the development of young people and help them reach their fullest potential. When successful, it is a means of creating positive change. However, young people are extremely unfocused in our current environment. Due to technology addictions, excessive social media usage and heightened isolation, young people are often diverted away from the present moment. In a world that’s becoming increasingly tough to navigate, it’s comforting to tune out and escape.
When you examine the big picture, it’s not hard to comprehend the insolvency of meaningful youth engagement. With so many things competing for their attention, young people are urged to focus on future plans and harmful comparisons instead of slowing down and reflecting. Now more than ever, youth leaders need to consider what makes youth engagement a successful practice. These tips we’ve provided should help get you started
1. Be Sincere
Young people can spot disingenuousness from a mile away. They’re way more apt to be responsive if they feel the person they’re communicating with is speaking authentically. Use experiences and stories from your own life to relate to the young people you’re addressing. Speak to them on their level, not from a pulpit.
2. No Belittling or “Toddler Speak”
As an adult, you probably don’t like when others behave in a way that is condescending. Kids don’t like it, either! People of a young age are especially sensitive to this since they are accustomed to being dismissed. Some adults in their lives might treat them as if they are inexperienced, naïve and infantile. Young people should always be valued and spoken to as adults-in-training.
3. Prioritize Inclusivity
Providing meaningful youth engagement means ensuring that every single youth is engaged. This means recognizing that some young people have additional challenges to contend with on a daily basis. No young person should feel like they don’t belong, no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.
4. Encourage Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
One way to keep young people engaged is to give them reasonable goals to work towards as a group. These can be short-term and long-term aspirations. For example, perhaps in the short-term a group of adolescents could get together once a week to participate in a community gardening project or spoken word poetry performance. In the long-term, they might enjoy working together to complete college essays or brainstorm passions to pursue.
5. Above All Else, Listen
What do the young people in your life like to do, and what keeps them interested? Do they enjoy listening to music, making art, reading, or playing sports? What makes them feel energetic and inspired? These answers are the key to meaningful youth engagement. The young person in your life doesn’t just want to be heard, they need to be heard. The best way to listen is to take an active interest in the hobbies and activities they love.
Learn More about Youth Engagement with Lead4Life, Inc.
Are you interested in learning more about ways to support youth engagement? Visit our website for more information or contact us at 240-499-8949. At Lead4Life, we strive to empower every participant in our programs so that they may find their purpose, achieve their goals, and become poised, productive members of their community. We advocate for those in need and assist each and every individual by providing compassionate education and valuable resources and tools so that they can make the very best decisions and develop important life, social, and competency skills.