How to Engage Youth

Adult allies of youth explore what they need to learn for themselves.

Freechild Institute Youth Engagement Toolkit

Here are 10 steps to engage any youth, anywhere, at any time, for any reason.

  1. Look: Who are the specific youth you want to engage?
  2. Name: What exactly do you want to engage youth in?
  3. Listen: What do the young people you want to engage care about? What do they say they’re sustainably connected with?
  4. Acknowledge: Let youth know you’re listening to them by affirming, denying, or inquiring further about what they’re saying.
  5. Authorize: Provide active opportunities for young people to experience authority through learning and strategic positioning.
  6. Act: Take action with or support young people as they create change.
  7. Reflect: Look back strategically at youth engagement and identify new learning, challenges, successes, and opportunities.
  8. Critique: Examine the elements, name the outcomes, determine the inequities, and actively challenge barriers.
  9. Strategize: Determine new avenues for action and outcomes
  10. Close the Loop: Use the learning, critiques, and strategies you identified to strategize new opportunities for youth engagement.

Are you trying to promote or build youth engagement? Then you should include each step listed above. If you aren’t prepared to embark on each of those steps, then you should learn about them and prepare before you get there. If you aren’t going to do that, you aren’t going to engage youth effectively.

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Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth engagement in your community or organization, contact us.

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