Unit 3.2 Youth Participation and Measuring Youth Participation

Unit Introduction

Promoting social participation and involvement is an important aspect of youth work.

Unit Objectives:

  1. Participants get insight into forms and methods of youth participation
  2. They gain knowledge about the evaluation of forms of participation, which can be related to their own projects.

    Unit Content:

    The learning activities in this unit provide knowledge about the relevance of youth participation in society and about the possibilities and concrete methods of meaningful participation in youth work projects.

    Learning Activities:

    – 1 content session

    – 1 proposed video

    – 2 exercises

    Youth Participation and Measuring Youth Participation

    Youth empowerment is more about building better conditions for communities rather than for individuals, by letting youth take part in empowerment programmes (schools, non-governmental, governmental or non-profit organizations). Many scientists think that youth should not only learn about their rights but have an actual experience in receiving those rights. [1]
    There are special types of youth participation and empowerment. In order to achieve a higher quality of life, youth participates in many fields that can directly influence the future. It is highlighted six main interdependent dimensions: economic, social, cultural, psychological, community and organizational.

    Main goals of youth participation & empowerment can be divided into five main points, but all of them aim to build a positive environment for youth development: positive sense of self, self- control, decision-making skills, a moral system of belief, and pro-social connectedness.[2]

    We recommend you watch the video below in order to increase your understanding on meaningful youth participation. 

    [1] Golay, Dominique, and Dominique Malatesta. “Children’s Councils Implementation: A Path Toward Recognition?.” Children’s Rights and the Capability Approach. Springer, Dordrecht, 2014. 109-130.

    [2] Kar, Snehendu B., Catherine A. Pascual, and Kirstin L. Chickering. “Empowerment of women for health promotion: a meta-analysis.” Social Science & Medicine 49.11 (1999): 1431-1460.

    Tools & Methods on how to interact with youth and encourage them to participate

    Participatory methods are inclusive and involve local people and professionals in the project cycle.

    • Good participatory projects aim to involve a wide range of local and often disadvantages young people who will be affected by the project.
    • Here, the resources and potentials of the target groups must be in the foreground. They bring a large amount of local and individual knowledge, their specific experiences, etc. to the project. Hence in many ways they are better informed and closer to the matter than any external “expert”.
    • Participatory techniques are empowering. The voices of local young people are often not heard or ignored. When they feel that their views, opinions and ideas are valuable, useful and important to a particular project, they gain confidence and feel motivated to contribute and participate more – not only in the project but also in their daily lives. This process is enhanced when they are involved in the decision-making and running of the project.
    • If local people are involved in the identification, planning and implementation of the project from the beginning, including the selection of the theme, they are more likely to stay interested. They may also feel able to take ownership of the project, ensuring sustainability in the long run.

    In order to help young people to socialize, we must constantly monitor the process of interaction between young people in a group. Young people cannot be expected to be talking for hours without any support from the mentor; we must set the tone for the conversation, encourage any action, so that all participants in the group are comfortable while communicating. Here are some methods on how to lead the conversation among young people:

    When someone is coming up with a good idea and we want to emphasize it we can use clapping as a form of appreciation.

    Drawing is another good tool to help young people express their emotions and feelings, though it is not for everyone. It is good to ask them to draw their dreams, what they feel at the moment using various colours.

    Flip charts and papers, write down ideas on the group’s board, so that everyone can remember what was done already and refresh it in their minds.

    Playing games might also be very important in making youth socialize with each other, especially among kids and teenagers. It’s the time when they can exchange their thoughts with each other.

    Group work is a way of providing space for more voices to be heard than in a plenary session. Some youth are unwilling to speak out in a large group. Or they never get the chance. In a smaller group they may feel safe and valued and thus come up with brand new ideas.

    Home visits are important for motivating youth and their parents, caregivers and spouses. Home visits help establish an informal relationship and build trust with parents, guardians and other important adults. You also learn about the youth’s social status, family life and living conditions.

    In-depth interviews may be used for issues that cannot be discussed in a group or if you want to get to know a young woman or man better. In-depth interviews require being well prepared. If you lack experience as a researcher or facilitator, drawing or writing down the questions you want is helpful to avoid forgetting anything. You may also want to take notes for later reference, but ask permission first. Even if you have prepared questions in advance, always be open to new and unforeseen information that you may have to explore further before returning to the original questions. Strict privacy and confidentiality must always be maintained unless the youth gives you permission or requests that you share some or all of the information with others.

    Microphones are one way of giving everyone a chance to talk without interruptions. Introduce an object to represent your microphone – a pen, a marker or a little stick – and hand it over to the person who is going to talk. No one else is allowed to talk when someone has the microphone. When one person has finished expressing his or her views, the microphone is passed on to the next person who would like to speak.[1]

     The following example describes the specific context of work with delinquent young people. But the methods and practical tips are also relevant beyond this context:


    [1] https://resourcecentre.savethechildren.net/node/12169/pdf/youth_participation_tool_kit.pdf 

    Exercise 1


    Titel Reflection on participatory approaches
    Objective To get information on participatory approaches
    Module, Unit Module 3, Unit 3.2
    Description/ Instruction

    Please read the text (8 pages) focusing on the following points:

    http://www.beyondyouthcustody.net/wp-content/uploads/Young-people-and-resettlement-participatory-approaches-a-practitioners-guide.pdf in English

    • Reflecting again: What are participatory approaches and why are they important (p.1-2)
    • Developing participatory approaches: “Hart’s ladder of participation“ (p.2)
    • Examples for types of participation that could be considered (p.3)
    • Questions to the participatory quality of your own project (p.6,7)
    Time needed 45 Minutes


    Measuring Youth Participation

    We have talked already about the importance of monitoring and evaluating. Here are some tools and methods:
    Assessment reports of workplace environments based on written agreements such as Codes of Conduct along with frequent meetings, training of employers and annual gatherings are important tools to measure if employers understand, acknowledge and adapt accordingly.

    Activity time-Checklist:

    Checklists with six rows and as many columns as the number of problems you wanted to solve can also help you create an overview of what you have achieved and the way forward. (15 Minutes)

    Measuring youth participation

    One of the ways to understand change is by measuring the level of equality and non-discrimination. Check if you have managed to integrate the most vulnerable youth into your project or programme. Another way of understanding change is to measure whether the youth’s capacity has increased, e.g. how do the youth participate when they are involved with a group or network?
    You should also examine if the members of your youth group play an active role as citizens, and if the adults in the community are helping them. Rules and regulations, structures, practices and traditions influence youth’s lives, and so do duty bearers who are supposed to protect the rights of youth. An important part of monitoring and evaluations is therefore also to scrutinise whether attitudes, practice and implementation are changing in society or in the community due to your activities

    Exercise 2


    Titel The European Union Youth Strategy 2019–2027
    Objective To understand the European Union Youth Strategy and develop a methodology  for daily youth practice.
    Module, Unit Module 3, Unit 3.2
    Description/ Instruction

    Check out the summary of the European Union Youth Strategy below,


    After you check the content, think about how to use the European Union Youth Strategy  in your daily practice as a youth worker and move a discussion to the forum.

    Additional information for trainers If you want to check out the European Union Youth Strategy in detailed, you can follow this  link as well.
    Time needed 45 Minutes


    Further reading:


    Quiz time

    Finish the module with a short quiz