Before you get started, there are several things to know about Youth Mainstreaming. You don’t have to start by doing many things at once; you can choose a simple pathway leading to complex transformation. Following are some approaches to Youth Mainstreaming.
Each of these approaches relies on scaffolding, which takes activities in the short-term and shows how they apply to the long-term growth of Youth Mainstreaming. These approaches assume that there is a trained champion for Youth Mainstreaming who is capable of leading any of these approaches. It also assumes that rather than simply choosing one approach and following it closely, facilitators can interchange approaches and develop unique ways to meet the needs of their organizations and communities.
The Gradual Acceleration Approach to Youth Mainstreaming
When forming new approaches to Youth Mainstreaming, it can be advisable to create a basic structure ahead of time so youth and adults will have something to start with. Once everyone is in the room, youth and adults can set broad goals and expectations, with the understanding that they will be modified with time. Goals should be SMART (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Sensitive). A timeline reflecting a gradual process should be created that shows a shortened acceleration of activities.
The gradual acceleration approach to Youth Mainstreaming can look like this:
- Present about Youth Mainstreaming to the organization board of directors or community leadership
- Develop a Mainstreaming Action Committee, MAC, with nontraditional and traditional youth leaders and adults from your organization and/or community
- Train the MAC on the elements of Youth Mainstreaming and develop champion roles
- Assess current practices for their applicability, navigability and relevance to Youth Mainstreaming
- Develop Youth Mainstreaming SMART goals for the organization and/or community using the data you collected from Step 4
- Present to organizational leadership and board with MAC as facilitators and identify leaders who are champions
- Adopt polices, guidelines or laws reflecting organizational commitment to Youth Mainstreaming, as led by board of directors or community leadership
- Facilitate professional development for all youth-serving adults within an organization or community led by the MAC
- Facilitate training and educational activities for youth who are served throughout an organization and community
- Engage champions in advocating for Youth Mainstreaming throughout your community or beyond
- Develop new programmatic approaches reflecting a commitment to Youth Mainstreaming
- Implement and assess new programmatic approaches
- Re-develop programmatic approaches and SMART goals as needed led by the organizational staff and participants and the MAC
The Moderate Middle Approach to Youth Mainstreaming
The moderate middle approach to Youth Mainstreaming identifies a continuum of action, alternatives and possibilities for bringing individuals, cultures and structures in line with the ideals of the strategy. In this approach, Youth Mainstreaming takes familiar forms of youth involvement into context to help organizations and communities develop culturally appropriate ways towards positive outcomes.
- Conduct an organizational assessment. Determine where elements that lend themselves to Youth Mainstreaming already exist and identify what can be done to further weave youth throughout the operations of your organization or community.
- Educate and integrate. Facilitate a series of professional development and youth training workshops focused on Youth Mainstreaming and its various aspects. Share data, activities and tools to ensure policy-making and program planning that reflects key knowledge about Youth Mainstreaming.
- Assess and redesign. Using a standard tool, engage youth and adults reflecting and critically analyzing your Youth Mainstreaming approach. Challenge them to think broadly, and then apply their assessments towards renegotiating or redeveloping their related activties.
The Maximum Action Approach to Youth Mainstreaming
Maximizing Youth Mainstreaming means that an organization will have an immediate shift of tone, instantaneous development of culture, and simultaneous establishment of structures and systems. While respecting the delicacy of youth/adult partnerships, Youth maximizing mainstreaming helps remove the barriers that can emerge with gradual acceleration. In new relationships between youth and adults, understanding those obstacles can be important; however, too much rumination can be detrimental too.
The maximum action approach to Youth Mainstreaming can look like this:
- Familiarity: The organizational or community leader presents their commitment to Youth Mainstreaming. Proposing laws, rules or guidelines, they establish themselves as the champion. Allocating a budget immediately, action teams are devised for planning and implementation.
- Implementation: Planning and implementation teams immediately create programs and activities reflecting the organizational or community approach to Youth Mainstreaming. Incorporating constant reflection and assessment, programs regularly train and educate participants, staff, board leaders and community members and reevaluate their process along the way.
- Continuity: On an annual basis, leaders and participants and others engage in critical thinking about their organization and community’s commitment to Youth Mainstreaming.
Choosing the right approach to Youth Mainstreaming is essential for action. Given the room that each approach has, there’s plenty of space to re-strategize as you go along. If you begin in the Gradual Acceleration approach and decide that you need to go Maximum Action, that’s do-able.
The important thing of each approach is that your organization or community has made a thorough commitment to Youth Mainstreaming and moving the agenda with youth that’s been chosen.
Share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Institute can support Youth Mainstreaming in your community or organization, contact us.