I’m often asked for answers by folks who want to know exactly what to do. As many of my readers know, I don’t really give answers though. Instead, I’m a critical examiner, constantly asking questions and deconstructing answers that have been given.
Following are some essential questions I ask about youth involvement.
Step 1: Identify Why Youth Involvement
- Have youth identified if they want to be meaningfully involved? If so, why do youth want to be meaningfully involved? If not, why not?
- Have adults identified why they want to meaningfully involve youth ? If so, why do adults want youth to be meaningfully involved? If not, why not?
- Is meaningful youth involvement seen as a learning tool? Is it being utilized as a pathway for youth to successfully meet their goals in life?
Step 2: Identify HOW Youth Will Be Involvement
- What specific duties/tasks/assignments will youth have?
- How will adults be involved?
- How does meaningful youth involvement relate to the community at large?
- How does meaningful youth involvement relate to formal organization or community activities?
Step 3: Figure out WHO Will Be Involved
- Is the activity for traditionally or non-traditionally involved youth? If it is for non-traditionally involved youth, how will their involvement be ensured? How will it be sustained?
- Is there equal representation from across the organization/group/community of youth targeted?
Step 4: Name WHAT Youth Will Be Involved In
- Have clear goals or a distinct purpose been identified for youth to be meaningfully involved in?
- Are there parameters for youth? Do they have complete autonomy, or are the roles for youth clearly defined ahead of their involvement?
- Is there a distinct plan for educating, reflecting and assessing youth involvement?
Step 5: Identify WHEN Youth Involvement Will Happen
- Is the activity in-class, during a pre-existing program time, during the school day, right after school, in the evening, on the weekends, or during a school break?
- What accommodations have been made in order to acknowledge the specific nuances of youth schedules, i.e. homework, transportation, lost program time, etc?
- How often will meaningful involvement occur within the youth’s life as a youth? During one day? Throughout a week? In a quarter or semester? Throughout one school year? Beyond?
Step 6: Say WHERE Youth Will Be Involved
- Are youth meaningfully involved in their local community in other places?
- Who controls the environments where meaningful youth involvement will occur? How do they affect meaningful youth involvement?
- Do youth have opportunities to become meaningfully involved throughout their communities in other ways? Why or why not? How?
These are some of the essential questions. What else would YOU ask?