Young leaders can make a difference in youth programs and organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, 4H, and in schools. No organization is perfect, and your input is needed to improve what's happening for youth.
You know best what interests you and what the issues are in your organization. That's why adult leaders in these places need to hear from you.
Youth leadership can take many forms in agencies and programs. You can be involved in planning and decision making, in doing and evaluating.
Think about yourself in different roles and look at ways to impact an agency or institution you are involved with. Start small and move up:
- (Co-)facilitate a workshop/lesson
- Mentor a younger youth
- Organize an Open House
- Be a peer educator
- Participate in a community service project
- Organize a fundraiser
- Join a youth advisory group/student government
- Speak out at a youth forum
- Participate in focus groups/surveys
- Produce radio/TV/videos so youth voices can be heard
- Advocate for change
- Evaluate youth programs
Some of these positions may not exist in your organization. To make change for young people, you may need to advocate to create these positions.
- Voting member, Board of Directors
- Member of hiring committee
- Member, Board of Education
- Program leader
- Political office (18 years and up)
Powerless or Powerful?
You want to be taken seriously when you take on leadership positions in a program or organization. Adults might need your help to become your allies or supporters - you may need to work against adultism.
The ladder of youth participation shows the difference between powerless youth roles and meaningful youth roles.