How to Support Youth Engagement

Freechild Institute Youth Engagement Toolkit

The “Spheres of Engagement” are the large parts of a young person’s life where they experience sustained connections over and over. Each of the individual spheres of youth engagement are parts of a generally unspoken system. We support youth engagement by acknowledging this system.

This system surrounds all young people from the time they’re born through adulthood, and beyond. A system is “a set of connected things or parts forming a complex whole, in particular.” Systems of youth engagement are the broad ways young people experience sustained connections throughout their lives. There are many different ways to envision these systems operating.

The Spheres of Youth Engagement

There are formal and informal institutions throughout the lives of young people that drive, affect, or impact the sustained connections they have throughout life.

These systems can include, but aren’t limited to, their family, education, health, social services, recreation, faith communities, cultural activities, work, civic action, mental health services, and juvenile justice. Other systems can include transportation, food and nutrition, housing, business, and the environment.

When these systems function well, there are communities full of engaged children and youth. When they do not function well, young people experience disengagement in any or all of these spheres.

The fewer sustainable connections a young person experiences in each and all of these spheres, the more disengaged they become throughout their lives. The more disengaged a person is as a young person, the more likely they’ll be disengaged as an adult; the more engage a person is when they’re young, the more engaged they will become when they’re older.

Steps to Support Youth Engagement

  1. Acknowledge the spheres of engagement in the lives of individual youth that make up the system of engagement. These can included sphere you think are positive or negative.
  2. Identify where you, your program or activity are within the those systems.
  3. Establish ties throughout each of the other spheres of engagement within the life of an individual youth.
  4. Foster connectivity between these spheres in order to surround young people with cultures of engagement. This connectivity can include structural, social and individual ties, and forms a unified system of youth engagement.
  5. Identify the ways youth engagement grows within and throughout the lives of youth because of this connectivity.

You Might Like…

Elsewhere Online


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.

The Practice of Youth Engagement by Adam Fletcher!
The Practice of Youth Engagement by Adam Fletcher!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s