Youth engagement is a shift in thinking that challenges us to look at youth differently and include their voices and input into plans, strategies, and services to support them. Successful youth engagement strategies take a view of youth not as being “at risk,” or a set of problems to be fixed, but as resilient, resourceful people who can partner with adults in a joint effort to solve community problems.
There are many opportunities for youth to engage with TNOYS— from storytelling and the chance to join our Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC), to opportunities on TNOYS’ staff. Our Youth Engagement Roadmap illustrates the many ways we work with young people.
TNOYS’ Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC) is a paid leadership development program for youth and young adults ages 16 to 25 with lived experiences such as foster care, juvenile justice system involvement, homelessness, etc. Learn more about the YALC here.
TNOYS believes that youth-serving organizations play a critical role in promoting youth engagement. Often youth and their families know best what they need and how to make services work for them, and incorporating youth voice and youth-adult partnerships can help make youth service organizations stronger and more relevant.
Youth engagement happens most effectively when youth are empowered and involved at multiple levels, from service provision to evaluation to policy development. TNOYS provides its members and other organizations with tools and resources to help make that happen, including our Youth Engagement Toolkit, a compilation of materials and resources for organizations looking to launch or enhance their youth engagement efforts.
TNOYS’ trainings and conferences promote youth involvement, and when possible include youth speakers and presenters. TNOYS also has several major projects and programs focused on youth engagement, including our annual PEAKS Camp, and the biennial Youth in Action Capitol Day.