What does meaningful youth engagement look like? How can we engage youth in community change? What are common youth engagement challenges and how do you overcome them? These are a few of the questions that we asked as we launched Communities Building Youth Futures (CBYF), Tamarack’s strategy to enable youth engagement and community change in 13 communities across Canada. Youth leadership and engagement are crucial components of this collective impact strategy and so, CBYF launched a Commitment to Youth Engagement.
- A Discovery Phase and Empathy Map development to gain insight into the needs of youth and how they want to be meaningfully engaged
- Hosting a webinar to hear stories of innovative youth engagement approaches and lessons learned
- Co-designing a set of Guiding Principles for meaningfully engaging youth with lived and living experience (youth aged 15 to 30 who face challenges as they transition into adulthood, through education and employment) and a Guide to Youth Engagement
We hope that these resources will help community changemakers better understand principles and best practices for youth engagement. We hope that you will have gained insights into the needs of youth, stories and examples of youth engagement, along with common challenges that may come up with youth engagement and how to resolve them.
Some key themes that emerged from our work
- When engaging youth (and people with lived and living experience), be aware of intersectionality and systemic barriers. Consider the role your organization is playing and if you are enabling and replicating these barriers through your work, rather than creating solutions.
- Meaningful engagement involves demonstrating that an organization is committed to authentic collaboration and not simply tokenizing an individual or a group of people to check a box.
- Often, youth are passionate about community change, learning from others and want the chance to make a real impact in their community. Design opportunities that build capacity for youth and include youth from the beginning.
The Commitment to Youth Engagement prototypes will be used in CBYF’s work until spring 2021 with ongoing evaluation to ensure the effectiveness of the Guiding Principles and to continue learning. Following our Prototype Phase, feedback and evaluation will be used to further iterate and refine the Commitment.
How can CBYF’s Commitment to Youth Engagement help you engage youth in community change?
- Gain insights into the needs of youth through this field note, Understanding Youth Through Empathy Mapping
- Watch this webinar and hear stories of innovative youth engagement approaches and lessons learned
- Read about CBYF’s Guiding Principles, along with practices for youth engagement and how to resolve common challenges that may come up with youth engagement
- Watch Kids Explain Intersectionality
- Read Ten Tips for Putting Intersectionality into Practice to promote opportunity for individuals and communities who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination