Whether you’re working with older high school students as peer leaders or directly with middle schoolers as program participants, consider the whole person. Don’t just see kids for the role they’ll play in your organization or campaign. Think about the skills and needs they have as whole people—people who live, work, learn and play in the city you’re serving. For example, offer youth opportunities to develop skills they can put on their resumes, give them access to special conferences or events, or connect them with new mentors.
Youth-adult partnerships are crucial to effective, engaging programming. Those partnerships only work when adults involve youth in a deep, genuine way. Young people are more likely to engage if they know you want them to succeed—not just in their role in your program, but also in school and life.