Essential Questions in Youth Involvement

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?

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