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Five tips from young people on engaging young people

Tip 1: Take young people seriously by making an effort

You can take young people seriously by showing that you are making an effort for them. Two ways to achieve this are active listening and giving feedback.

Active listening

Listen and ask further questions. Then, summarise the young people’s answers and double-check your understanding. Here, it is also good to check your assumptions with them.

Provide follow up

Providing follow-up means keeping young people informed about the project. This keeps them involved. Sometimes, little happens in your project, and you may feel you can’t give anything back. But again, these are learning moments for the young people: this is how they know how the process works (and how much time processes might take) and what next steps you take.

Tip 2: Adopt a transparent approach

Think in advance about why you want to involve young people and what you want to achieve with the cooperation. Tell this to the young people you will be working with in your introduction and during the process. Express your expectations of them and ask what they can expect from the project and the cooperation. Also, indicate when things still need to be clarified in the process. Tell the young people what you are doing to clarify this, or what you need, and when you expect to be able to tell them more about this.

Tip 3: Give young people something in return

Especially a pleasant experience, your time and attention. This way, you show appreciation and respect for young people’s time and effort in your project. Giving something back can also be a financial compensation, enabling more diverse young people to participate. However, compensation can include training, workshops, activities, networking opportunities, or outings. Another Democracy Reloading blog has also been written on whether or not to compensate young people.

Tip 4: Involve young people as early as possible

Involve young people from the beginning or as early as possible. If you involve young people only at the end, it is clear that not much participation is possible anymore. Young people then also learn little about the whole process and might experience this as a one-way road. When you involve them as early as possible, they gain insight into processes, and their input can also be valuable in improving the process or policy.

Tip 5: Make it attractive and fun for young people

Young people make the decision to take part in something. The same goes for your project or organisation. They choose to participate in your project over something else. Make it attractive for them to choose this and keep participating. Fun contact with each other and with you, both online and offline, is essential.