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Checklist: How to engage youth

Getting youth involved in the community means bringing in creativity, energy and fresh ideas. They are often eager to contribute to the community and the lives of others. The Ontario Volunteer Centre Network and Volunteer Canada offer this advice for engaging youth:

  • Be flexible: Young people like variety and flexibility when they volunteer their time. Give them options. Remember that they have busy schedules too, between school, part-time jobs, extra-curricular activities and sports.
  • Give them a sense of purpose: Tell youth how their involvement can make a difference in the community. If it’s a cause they believe in, they will feel rewarded for getting involved.
  • Offer them information and training: Support youth by offering them the tools they need to do the job. Explain their role and what tasks are required. Offer them learning opportunities, such as training, mentoring or job shadowing.
  • Offer real benefits: Tell them “what’s in it for them.” Let young people know what skills they can develop by helping out, and any other rewards you may be able to offer them.
  • Give them incentives: Young people will feel recognized if you offer them incentives for helping out—anything from job references to small rewards like movie or event tickets. Many will feel motivated by the chance to gain work experience.
  • Offer them variety: Whenever possible, give youth a range of tasks. Don’t simply relegate them to stuffing envelopes. Offer them opportunities to expand their skill base and learn something new that fits with their interests.
  • Make it fun: Ask young people for their ideas to ensure their experience with you is both educational and fun. Listen to them and watch them to learn what engages them. Play their music while you’re working on a project or order in pizzas after putting in long hours together.