Engaging with youth can be one of the most challenging tasks a facilitator can be asked to undertake. Connecting with youth in familiar spaces and having a clear idea of what constitutes success are important elements. Just getting youth to engage is an achievement that can be built on. In environments where youth don’t have a voice, a good outcome to strive for is the creation of local communication pathways for sustained future engagement.
It is also important to acknowledge that many subject areas considered important by adults are not high on the agenda of youth. Limiting conversations to relevant, tangible and positive issues such as upgrades to skate parks, etc can assist in breaking down some of the engagement barriers and reduce scepticism. In real terms, this is the difference between asking “what would you like to change about where you live” and “how can your skate park be improved”.
While it is true that youth are active on social media, there is insufficient evidence to support exclusive use of social media when it comes to sourcing qualitative feedback. Informal conversations on their “turf”, supported by the use of social media as a logistics and feedback tool creates an ideal combination.