There can sometimes be a temptation to jump in and immediately begin involving youth to assist in your efforts. While this desire is noble, it is also crucial to think through ways in which your organization’s structure, policies, and procedures could potentially impede your efforts. This process can be tedious, but taking the time to thoroughly prepare will help to ensure that youth have a positive experience. Not only is it important to have the correct structures in place, it is also important that the adults involved are prepared and trained to be working alongside young people. Negative experiences can be disempowering and may result in youth being discouraged in future efforts. A positive experience, however, can go a long way to spark enthusiasm. Youth are often excited when there are opportunities to authentically share their experience and expertise.
To prepare for incorporating youth voice into your work, you must first decide in what way you plan on involving young people. If you are creating a youth council or giving a young person a formal role on an existing adult committee, the way you prepare for a young person is going to look different. The following pages explain some ways in which youth may be involved.