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Youth Engagement – Using Youth Facilitators
“YOU CAN’T BE WHAT YOU CAN’T SEE.”*
When someone their own age takes a leadership role in the classroom, students sit up and take notice.
Training young people to co-facilitate a healthy relationship program with an adult partner has many benefits. Research shows that having youth facilitators not only improves the leadership skills of those students, but also for all students in the program. Students see the youth facilitators as role models—a real-life example of someone their own age who is not afraid to stand up for what they believe. Engaging youth in the key role of facilitator tends to improve youth engagement in other aspects of the program. Finally, youth facilitators act as “generational translators” for adult facilitators, helping to ensure the program materials – such as scenario examples – remain current and relevant to students.
However, working with youth facilitators requires careful planning and additional resources.
In British Columbia, youth facilitators are an essential part of the Respectful Relationships (R+R) program, developed by SWOVA (Salt Spring Women Opposed to Violence & Abuse). The award-winning R+R program is based on a four-year, 48-session curriculum (12 workshops per year) and is delivered to students in Grades 7, 8, 9 and 10 or 11.
R+R has developed a Youth Team Training Guide, which describes four training streams: 1) facilitation skills, 2) social activism, 3) self-awareness, and 4) leadership.
Whether you want to improve an existing youth facilitation program or are just getting started, it’s well worth a read.
Download an excerpt. For more information, please contact SWOVA staff at firstname.lastname@example.org
ADDITIONAL TIPS ON ENGAGING YOUTH
A YOUTH ADVISORY COMMITTEE can help your organization reach out to young people. Their ideas and energy will not only help your program to be more appealing and relevant to teens, but also more effective.
BUILD IN MULTIPLE WAYS FOR YOUTH TO SPEAK UP before, during, and after the programs, so their lived experience can enrich the program. Ensure these opportunities are clearly communicated and easily accessible to all program participants.