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YOUTH VOICES (guide) 8

ENGAGE Aim: to build youth group and engage youth in expressing themselves on their lives and communities.

The Engage phase of the Youth Voices process centers on engaging youth in discussion and expression about their lives and experiences. Because this may be difficult or new for young people, engage youth in this work by using multimedia approaches such as photography or art.

Youth often come for the multimedia approach, and stay for the community-based content. There are many approaches that can be used to engage youth in thinking about their lives and communities. Several popular techniques include: Brainstorming/group discussion Photography Drama Visual arts Journalism Music Video

“It makes me, as a teen, feel good that people care about what teens think and what they have to say. Most of the time we are overlooked.”

Youth Voices participant

For Engagement ideas refer to ENGAGE Appendix The key is to position the activity as a way for youth to explore their lives. Whatever the media being used, the approach should be one in which youth are encouraged to describe their experiences or something in their community they want to change, or feel strongly about. A good guiding question is the Youth Voices tagline “How Do You See Your World?” One approach that has been used successfully in the Youth Voices process is a technique called Photovoice (Wang et al., 1998). Youth are given cheap or disposable cameras and told to take pictures of their lives – strengths and challenges, things they want to change, etc. Youth then write captions for their pictures, and/or describe their pictures to each other. For full Photovoice description refer to Identify Appendix


Each phase has its own focus, objectives and activities, which can demand different skills and participation levels from the youth. Therefore, there is a need to ensure engagement happens at each phase. This can be done through regular check-ins and reflection.

9 YOUTH VOICES (guide)

Group Building

Building a strong group that can support and challenge each other is key to a successful project. The Engage Appendix provides many youth-driven group building ideas. It also has important references for adults who want to learn more about the youth engagement ďŹ eld.

Engage Appendix: Group Communication and Guidelines Activity p. 24 Icebreakers/Warm-ups/Energizers p. 26 Team Building Activities p. 26 Youth-IdentiďŹ ed Priorities for Youth Involvement p. 27 Youth Engagement p. 28

Checklist of things to accomplish during the Engage Phase: Recruit interested youth into the project Complete any necessary registration or consent forms Provide youth with an overview of the project including budget and timelines Choose a form of media or expression to allow youth to explore their lives and communities Establish group guidelines and meeting structures Engage youth in expressing themselves through the chosen media

Youth Voices Guide - Engage (8-9)  

Youth Voices Guide developed by the Youth Voices Research Group, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto.