Youth engagement is a shift in thinking which challenges us to look at youth differently and include their voices and input into plans, strategies, and services to support them. Through the lens of Youth Development, youth are not “at risk,” or a set of problems to be fixed; rather they are resilient, resourceful people who can partner with adults in a joint effort to solve community problems.
TNOYS believes that youth-serving organizations play a critical role in promoting youth development, and that youth development happens most effectively when youth are empowered and involved at multiple levels. Those levels include self-advocacy, service provision, evaluation, agency governance, community development, and policy development. TNOYS helps youth agencies to explore new roles and approaches to engage in community youth development.
TNOYS trainings and conferences promote youth involvement, and when possible include youth speakers and presenters. A new training curriculum entitled “Advancing Youth Development” introduces youth workers to a youth development approach and helps them apply these concepts in their day-to-day work. TNOYS also promotes youth development by organizing a “Youth in Action” day at the state capitol, where youth are empowered to bring issues of concern to policy makers.