Youth are the center of your mission, right? But sometimes we get caught up in the program process and forget to take the time to really listen to and learn about the youth we’re serving. Read, watch, and use the resources here to prioritize young people in your program.  This will help your staff acknowledge encourage, and share high expectations and believe in each young person they interact with.  

Articles on Prioritizing Young People

A Primer on Creating & Sustaining Youth-Adult Partnerships (PDF) | Center for Nonprofits and 4-H Youth Development
Youth-adult partnership (Y-AP) is a framework to use with young people and adults in any role, including staff, parents, and volunteers. It challenges young people and adults to work in responsible collective action to benefit your organization or larger community in an intentional way. We like the Y-AP manual, which helps organizations define the core ingredients for Y-AP and build a lasting culture.

What is Youth Engagement, Really? | ACT for Youth Center of Excellence
Truly engaging young people gives you the benefit of their expertise and partnership. This article defines youth engagement and provides guidance about involving young people in decision making, conducting youth participatory evaluation, and encouraging youth voice through workshops. We like this article because it demonstrates the conditions necessary to promote young people speaking up and making choices within a program.

Children’s Participation: From Tokenism To Citizenship | UNICEF
This longer read is for the true youth engagement enthusiast. This illuminating essay explores children’s participation in all areas of life using a “ladder of participation” framework, from manipulation to child-initiated, shared decisions made with adults. We appreciate the thoroughness, rich detail, and historical elements of the essay, as well as the connections between youth engagement and social and emotional development.

Videos on Prioritizing Young People

6 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Youth | The Family & Youth Institute
Sometimes we get comfortable in our roles and forget these crucial practices that lead to better relationships with young people. This two minute video reminds us to get to know young people by listening actively with body language, showing them we care by paraphrasing, providing perspective, and celebrating their successes. We love the graphics used in this quick video, and the information about mentoring young Muslim people at the end is very helpful. 

Every Kid Needs a Champion | TED
Rita Pierson reminds us of the basic concept, that Kids do not learn from teachers they don’t like. This Eight-minute video discusses the value of human relationships in education. Her main message is that we might not love all of our students but they need to think we do. Hello Insight strongly agrees that every child deserves a champion- an adult who will never give up on them. 

The Connection Between Hands-on Learning & Positive Youth Outcomes | University of Minnesota
How do you help support the lightbulb that goes off in a young person? This 20-minute video helps us understand where emotion and motivation come from in young people. We like the description of the emotional arc of producing ideas which young people experience and how we can best help them through it. 

Tools to Use for Prioritizing Young People

Boss Youth & Employer Empowerment Toolkit | MHA Labs
It makes such a difference when we are intentional about the activities we do with young people. This toolkit includes over 45 skill building worksheets, checklists and training supports. There is also a employer/program provider toolkit which has 5 pre-packaged youth empowerment workshops. Our favorite part about this is the 9 graphically-designed handouts that drive individual reflection and group collaboration. 

Ready To Go: Mentor Training Toolkit (PDF) | Michigan State University
Why reinvent the wheel when quality training agendas have been created by the pros? This document helps you plan a mentor of staff training. While the actual modules are not free, the toolkit has templates for an agenda, planning and activity outlines. We love how detailed they get when helping to think through set up and logistics for a training day. 

7 Tips for Positive Behavior (PDF) | National AfterSchool Association
Beginning the day with a genuine greeting for each young person is one of the most simple yet overlooked practices for positive youth development. This is a one-page handout with seven specific tips to help deepen relationships between staff and young people. We especially like how short and simple this is to share with staff. 

10 Tips for Building Relationships With Youth (PDF) | National AfterSchool Association
Great things happen when we actually participating alongside young people instead of just telling them what to do. This short handout with 10 specific tips for building relationships includes a discussion guide for professional development with staff. We especially like the little quiz at the end that you can use to evaluate your professional development session.

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