Systems for Youth Engagement

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Our society is filled with systems. A lot of them affect youth. A system is any group of coherent connections resulting in a predictable result.

Whether we’re talking about obvious systems like education, health care and juvenile justice, or less tangible systems like culture and families, it is important to understand how each of these systems affects youth engagement.

Parts of Systems for Youth Engagement

Systems are made of many parts. Some of these are the ways youth engagement is supported and happens; others are the various systems for youth engagement.

This graphic shows some of the elements, types and functions of systems for youth engagement throughout our society.
  • WAYS: The ways youth engagement happens through systems include Procedures, Policies, Practices, Possibilities, Products, Places, Personnel, and People.
  • VARIETY: The various systems for youth engagement include Education, Racial identities, Friendships, Mental health, Economics, Nonprofits, Faith communities, Healthcare, Culture, Business, Sexual identities, Recreation, Ethnic identities, Families, Governments, Entertainment, Public health, and Gender identity.

While I’ve worked with schools, nonprofits, government agencies and other orgs for decades, I’ve explored how and these systems operate. I’ve seen “under the hood” in dozens of communities, watched the bad and the good arise in times of crisis and seasons of apparent ease… and every time I’m reminded of the systems at work.

Wherever they’re sustainably connected, youth engagement happens in systems.

  • Education—Education systems are formal and informal, apparent and subversive. Youth engagement starts in the space where they’re learning.
  • Sports—The youth athletics system includes rules, teams, scores, morals, codes and more
  • Culture—The cultural system all youth belong to includes obvious and not-obvious rules, behavior, attitudes and beyond
  • Economics—The youth employment system exchanges goods and services for money and more

Other systems of youth engagement include school, faith, justice, health, family, civic action, social services, mental health, recreation, or other systems, ALL youth EVERY where can experience the positive, powerful potential of youth engagement. Let’s explore that together!

If you’re interested in understanding systems of youth engagement more, check out this activity »

Freechild offers training on Systems of Youth Engagement. If you’re interested in learning how we can help you, your organization or your community, call (360)489-9680 or send an email.


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