This tool was designed by to foster reflection, consideration, and growth by individuals and organizations seeking to promote youth engagement throughout communities. It can be used in any setting where young people could work with adults. It grew from conversations I had more than a decade ago with people like Greg Williamson, Sasha Rabkin, and Yve Susskind, and evolved through my direct work with more than 100,000 youth and adult allies in events, workshops, conferences, and programs across the US and Canada.
The spiral represents the non-linear motion of engagement. A person doesn’t just start in one place and end in another; instead, engagement is a process that continually evolves while hopefully growing larger. It has been going on a lot longer than the present, and the Youth MICE Model is meant to acknowledge the past. The spiral also represents the motion of opportunities becoming narrower as fewer people are engaged. The following descriptions can help you understand the different points throughout the model.
Starting from the tail of the Youth MICE Model…
- Engagement is Shared Equitably. This is the most ideal position for youth involvement community change to occur because it engages everyone in a community as equitable partners. Instead of simply seeing community as geography, this approach embraces the roots of the word, which comes from the Latin communis, meaning “common, public, shared by all or many.” Age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, language, ethnicity, and other qualities are embraced as strengthening identity that contributes to a larger good, not as segregating differences. All people experience inclusive, meaningful, empowering participation. Each shares as they are able or desiring according to shared expectations.
- Engagement is Self-Led. By focusing on the skills and leadership of young people, this approach leverages the power of youth and young adults with their ability to affect change across the whole community. Young people are the impetus and generators of action that reaches to other young people and across all age groups in their communities.
- Engagement is Shared Equally. This approach leverages the skills and leadership of young people with the power of adults in order to benefit the whole community. While youth and young adults are recognized as the motivators of community change, adults are engaged for their unique experience, talents, and abilities. Each shares 50/50 responsibilities, rights, and reactions to engagement.
- Engagement is Consulted On. The leadership of adults is predominant, engaging young people as input-sharers instead of movement-makers. Adults infuse the knowledge and ability of young people through action in particular ways in order to inform action.
- Engagement is Informed. In this approach adults may listen to young people, or young people may listen to adults, during planning, decision-making, or evaluation. This one-way flow of information does not nurture cross-accountability between young people and adults. However, it is an introduction to youth involvement in community engagement.
- Engagement is Assigned. Young people are assigned action by adults. Adults use their authority over young people through class credit, money, or mandates in order to foster community engagement. Young people influence adults through direct and indirect communication and action.