There are many ways youth can be involved in organizational decision-making structures and program development. Involving youth from the beginning of a project is ideal; suggestions about how and where youth can be involved include the following:
An example of a needs assessment is the GIS (geographic information system) project from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, through which youth identified resources in their communities. The resources were uploaded into a community-wide map, which was then used to inform community leaders about existing gaps and challenges. Learn more about Youth Mapping.
Youth provide an excellent source of human and social capital within communities. Their networks consist of their peers as well as family members and adult friends who have access to local resources. Several federally funded programs are soliciting youth leadership in order to identify local priorities and achieve more meaningful results. These programs are tapping into the expertise of young people, relying on them to help determine the needs of their communities.
Identifying strategies to meet needs
The National 4-H Council’s Engaging Youth, Serving Communities project requires adults to work with youth to organize community forum. The forum can be facilitated in partnership or solely by youth to discuss the needs of the community and how to devise a plan to address the needs.
Developing strategies/program activities
Youth can help create activities that will be of particular interest to their peers while effectively conveying program content. Many are familiar with age-appropriate team building exercises and activities that can be incorporated.