Putting Youth Engagement Into Practice
Putting Youth Engagement Into Practice – A Toolkit For Action
The purpose of this publication, Putting Youth Engagement into Practice – A Toolkit for Action, is to assist organisations and institutions to find ways of bringing in young people as genuine partners in their work. The aim is to open up a dialogue as a way of assessing where we are and where we can go. In doing so, we will be able to create opportunities for young people to play meaningful roles at an operational level, as well as in the decision making structures of organisations, by making young people part of their governance.
Terms like ‘youth engagement’ and ‘youth participation’ have found widespread acceptance but they are not straightforward. This is because there is no agreement about who is covered by the term ‘youth’. There is no universally agreed definition of youth and the age definitions differ from one society to another. There is also no agreement on what ‘youth participation’ really entails and so it can range from tokenistic efforts of consultation to youth-led projects. The expectations of what young people are capable of also differs from one organisation to the next.
For the purposes of this publication, we have adopted a pragmatic approach, based on the understanding that most established organisations do not have young people under the age of 30 in leadership roles. People under the age of 30 do not participate meaningfully in the operational and governance structures as equals (in this context, 30 is an arbitrary cut off point, used simply as a representative guide to help us identify young people who we want to bring into our organisations). For many organisations this may go higher and for others, the emphasis may be on much younger groups. In some cases, depending on the work that an organisation does, this group also involves young people who are categorised as children. With the right support, they too can be brought into the culture and the institutional structures of our organisations.