12 Pointers Before Adults Collaborate With Youth

  1. Start with the question “How can we partner with young people?” instead of “Why should we partner with youth?”
  2. Please gently correct those who say “We want to use kids.” Suggest “We want collaborate with young people.” It’s altogether different from teens and older students to refer to one another as “kids.”
  3. Share true stories of young change agents to stir adult minds and convince them of the unique influence of the rising generation.
  4. Identify one specific issue that your organization or coalition is grappling with. Ask who believes young people are needed as co-architects to develop a blueprint.
  5. Stop if there is not buy-in from key colleagues to partner with youth!
  6. Rehearse do’s and don’ts on how adults should interact with young people.*
  7. Wait to begin developing a possible plan of action until youth are on board.
  8. Create an announcement explaining why youth partners are essential to this process.
  9. Compile a list of individuals of all ages to help search for half a dozen youth.
  10. Recruit several youth and encourage them to invite one of their friends.
  11. Decide all together on short-term goals, expectations, etc.
  12. Strive for lively action-oriented meetings rather than a formal business atmosphere that can stifle unconventional ideas.

This philosophy articulated by Margaret Mead captures an authentic intergenerational process, even better than her well-known quote “Never doubt that a small group…”

The young, free to act on their initiative, can lead their elders in the direction of the unknown. The children, the young, must ask the questions that we would never think to ask, but enough trust must be re-established so that elders will be permitted to work with them on the answers.

* Duct Tape & Third Ear are among the suggestions in Catalyst! Successful Strategies to Empower Young Advocates. Want this free e-toolkit? Just send your request to wendy@youthactivismproject.org.