What Does This Mean?

Participation is enjoyable. * Youth can be creative. * Build healthy relationships. * Participation matches youth’s interest, it feels meaningful and significant, and is developmentally appropriate. * Participation provides youth with a sense of self-worth and value. * Opportunities for youth to actively engage in different ways according to interests. * Prioritize and design the initiative(s) for on-going recruitment and retention of other youth.


Enjoyable Initiatives  can challenge youth to be artistic, to learn new skills, to make a difference in the community, and/or engage youth with games. Participates need to enjoy the activities in youth initiatives at least part of the time to make their experiences worthwhile.

Interesting, Meaningful & Important.  This is different for everyone. For example, one person might be interested in graphic design, someone else in learning about their culture, and someone else in meeting new people. Participation feels best when the initiative has room for people to explore personal interests and work towards a shared goal.

Participation is Valued.  There are many ways in which youth can feel valued including: When youth are appreciated and welcomed for who they are as they are; knowing that their skills and contributions make a difference for others; and/or when the initiative supports inclusive participation.

Examples of meaningful, on-going & active participation.

  • Meaning & Self-Value
    Youth Truth Matters, Tri-County Women’s Centre
    Youth choose to participate in ways that they find interesting. This may mean designing a bulletin board, planning, researching, creating presentations or facilitating. Youth who show initiative are rewarded by being asked to facilitate and participate in events around eastern Canada, which increases self-confidence when they are shown respect by other communities.
  • Recruitment: Youth Forums
    Youth Truth Matters, Tri-County Women’s Centre
    Youth Truth Matters holds an annual forum each spring where existing Youth Leaders design and facilitate an all-day forum to recruit younger youth who might want to join the following year. This is a great opportunity for the Youth Leaders to build their skills while introducing what they do to future youth leaders.
  • Music Studio for Change
    Centreline Studios, In My Own Voice (iMove)View Website
    At its inception Centreline Music Studio was conceived as a youth engagement and re-direction strategy. Young people in the community continued to experience the impact of fractured family units, intergenerational poverty, historical trauma causing continued isolation and marginalization at the community level, coping through drug use, low levels of academic involvement and achievement and a fascination with gang culture and paraphernalia. Aligned with the goals of re-engagement and re-direction, Centreline Studios worked with the Black educators Association hosting a Cultural Academic Enrichment Program aimed at helping young people excel in academically.
  • Healthy Relationships
    Healthy Relationships for Youth Program, Antigonish Women’s Recourse CentreView Website
    This program is designed to teach youth how to build and maintain healthy relationships. Students learn communication strategies, where their personal boundaries are, how the media or substance abuse can affect relationships, as well as about diversity, sexual orientation, gender orientation, and power and violence.

Resources to increase meaningful, on-going & active participation.

Youth Engagement Spectrum (YES)
HeartWood Centre for Community Youth Development
The YES tool can be used by organizations, communities, and systems (e.g., health care, child welfare, education, etc.) to:

  • Assess the extent of youth engagement in existing programs and services
  • Explore new ways and means of engaging youth in organizations and in the community (or system)
  • Identify the underlying values and activating principles that can help make youth engagement a commonplace practice
  • Design youth engagement strategy to fit specific situations and local circumstances

Also found in Principles R & E (Establish Goals) of this website.

Youth Leadership Training
YTM Tool Kit Section 1, Youth Truth Matters, Tri-County Women’s Centre
This guide is valuable in creating Youth Leadership Facilitation Training retreats, covering anything from the logistics, to the art of facilitation, to example YTM youth-led workshops. Embedded throughout are approaches that help create the right atmosphere including creating community agreements, building trust, and using inclusive language. This guide can be modified to fit your initiative’s purpose and goals. See the website for the complete tool kit.

Also found in Principles R, E (Environment), S & C of this website.

Workshop Materials: Illicit Drugs & Social Issues
YTM Tool Kit Sections 2 & 4, Youth Truth Matters, Tri-County Women’s Centre
These workshop materials focus on illicit drug use in our communities and the social issues that young people are facing. They were created by youth, for youth. Section Two: Youth Created Workshops outlines activities, presentations on illicit drugs, games and tools that can be used when engaging youth in these topics. Section Four: Social Issues provide workshop materials for Body Image & Eating Disorders, Bullying, Gender Stereotypes, Homelessness, Hypersexualization, Mental Health, Pornography, Racism, Relationships, Roots of Abuse, and Self Harm. See the website for the complete tool kit.

Also found in Principles E (Environment), C & T of this website.

Engaging & Empowering Aboriginal Youth: A Toolkit for Service Providers (2nd Ed.)
Authors: Claire V. Crooks, Director, Debbie Chiodo, Darren Thomas , Shanna Burns, & Charlene Camillo
This Toolkit presents a wide range of guidelines, strategies, templates, and case studies for those who work with Aboriginal youth. A mix of conceptual guidelines and practical strategies are provided throughout the Toolkit. In addition to the four key sections of the first edition – Background and Overview, Guiding Principles, Working with Schools, Research and Evaluation – the second edition has been updated to include an additional section on assessment, which provides a series of assessment tools to assist with identifying a starting point for change.

Also found in Principles S, E (Establish Goals) & C of this website.

Ice Breakers & Energizers
Partners for Youth Empowerment
Many youth engagement initiatives use ice breakers and fun games in their initiatives to make participation more fun and to help build relationships amongst participants. Check out these workshop activities for ideas and inspiration!

Catch the Fire: An art-full guide to unleashing the creative power of youth, adults and communities
Authors: Peggy Taylor & Charlie Murphy, Partnership for Youth Empowerment
Catch the Fire is a complete guide to using arts and empowerment techniques to bring greater vitality and depth to working with groups of youth or adults. Based on the premise that you don’t have to be a professional artist to use the arts in your work, this unique book invites group leaders into the realm of creativity-based facilitation, regardless of previous experience.

Also found in Principle E (Environment) of this website.