One of the most overlooked assets in every youth program is the young people themselves. Each young person that you work with brings a diversity of life experience, strengths, and ideas. Read, watch, and use the resources here to help young people engage with each other. This will help your staff tap into assets, celebrate diversity, and build a supportive community. 

Articles on Peer-to-Peer Engagement

Active Listening | MindTools
A key component of teamwork or mentorship is listening, but how often do we teach it as a practice to our young people? This article includes everything you need to know to become an active listener or to build a lesson around active listening. We like it both as a component of a professional development session with staff and a lesson for young people.

Reflecting on Your Inner Self | MindTools
Each young person that you work with brings a diversity of life experience, strengths, and ideas. You can do this free model of self assessment as an activity with young people. We like this for a mature group of young people because it helps reveal biases and learn about ourselves.

Zone of Proximal Development | Simply Psychology
There are specific activities we can do with young people to support them through the process of learning about a new skill and being able to do it independently. The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) refers to the difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can achieve with guidance and encouragement from a skilled adult. We like this article because it focuses on adjusting our activities and teaching to where a young person is within their learning process. 

Stages of Group Development | MindTools
Encourage young people to work in teams or groups to support each other’s process and growth. Forming a team takes time, and young people often go through recognizable stages as they change from being a collection of strangers to a united group with common goals, this theory describes these stages. We especially like this theory because it supports our recommendation to step back and let young people in groups grapple with difficult issues. If you see roadblocks as steps in the collaboration process instead of failures, they will also. 

Videos on Peer-to-Peer Engagement


Roberto Rivera: Hip-Hop(e) | TEDxGrandRapids

Part of peer-to-peer exploration is encouraging young people to see each other as resources, allies, and leaders. This 18-minute TED talk brings attention to the current situation that young men of color in the U.S face and encourages everyone to take active role in bringing out what is already inside young people. We like the passion and personal experience in this TED talk.

Program Structures that Promote Youth Participation, Leadership & Problem Solving | University of Minnesota
Young people can see each other as leaders if there are opportunities for leadership intentionally created for them. This 24-minute video is a case study of youth leadership program. We like this video because it includes a virtual program visit where you can actually see leadership development with young people in action. 

Tools to Use for Peer-to-Peer Engagement

Grab and Go:“I” Statements | 4-H
One way we encourage peer-to-peer engagement is to create safe spaces for young people to reflect on their experiences and share personal stories with each other. This 4-H Activity worksheet is designed to support young people’s effective communication skills. We like this because the topic can be replaced with whatever feels most applicable for your group of young people. 

Collaborative Learning Tip Sheet | ACT for Youth Center for Excellence
Young people can learn from each other sometimes more than they can learn from adults! This is a very simple activity and worksheet from Cornell on collaborative learning. We like this lesson plan because it is very short and to the point while being a powerful experience for young people in collaboration.

Nurturing Collaboration | Edutopia
The ability to work in a group is developed well if it is nurtured in our young people, instead of just forced. This article gives you specific information on the ways to nurture young people working in groups. We love this resource because it is full of great practices and can be easily turned into a whole professional development session for staff.

My-Peer Toolkit
When you intentionally match young people from different communities, backgrounds, ethnicities, and life experiences, they can learn from each other’s experiences and strengths. This resource includes best practice guidelines for developing peer-based programs. We especially like the article on creating a safe space for young people, where differences are celebrated and explored.

Project Implicit
Make sure your program includes opportunities for young people to work together in groups with other young people they've never met. This is an educational tool to unpack implicit bias. We like this for a more mature group of young people, there is a test on the site, or the information can be used to spark a meaningful conversation around implicit bias.

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