Put Youth in Leadership Roles (Free Download)

Children learn how to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions.

~Alfie Kohn

In youth-centered programs, the role of staff is to be the “guide by the side” not the “sage on the stage.” Staff provide structure, support and coaching to help young people take leadership, communicate and make decisions that are important to them.

What’s the impact of youth-centered programming? Youth engagement.  And the creation of a place where staff and youth ask questions, seek answers, take positive risks, make mistakes and learn together.  And, importantly, when young people are at the center of their own learning, they get to practice decision-making with caring adults by their sides.

This isn’t easy—in fact, it can be really difficult.  But, one key to youth-centered programming is to set the expectation for challenges.  Consider what those would be for you. What would youth-centered programming mean in your program?  

Say to yourself: “If my program were youth driven…

  • What would it look like?

  • What would be different compared to when the program began?

  • What are we already doing that we can strengthen and continue?

  • How would roles, responsibilities, power dynamics have changed?”

We believe youth-centered programming is so worth it that we wrote this guide, Putting Youth in the Driver’s Seat, as a free download to help you on your path to youth-centered programming. 

Are you doing youth-centered programming? Have you used the guide? Let us know!