My first workshop was focused on building lasting and effective relationships between adults and youth in neighborhoods. To our benefit, there was a 17 year old girl in our workshop whose insights vastly improved the quality of the workshops. I was looking for information on how to get youth in my ‘hood involved and keep them involved in improving the neighborhood. Here are some bullets from my notes:
• Ask what youth have to offer to spark engagement. If they know their input is valuable to you, they will be more interested.
• Offer plenty of positive reinforcement and trust.
• Provide safe but relaxed environments for youth to feel comfortable in.
• Be transparent about your own experiences. Saying “I was a teenager once” but not explaining the specific instances that brought that remark out is essentially lying, and youth can pick that up.
• The problems that face youth seem to be both systemic and pandemic. That is, they receive little to no support from government institutions and that the need for good leadership, positive role models, and quality programs to combat negative influences are found nationwide.
• When planning a youth program make sure to include youth in the dermination of the process and the future of the program. I think that anything you expect youth to be involved in should look for youth involvement from square one of planning on.
• Look at the Louisville Office of Youth Development. They provide a booklet listing nearly all of the youth-oriented programs in the Louisville area free of charge. Sure wish Cleveland had something like this.