Adults: How to Help Youth Projects Succeed

Adults: How to Help Youth Projects Succeed

When it comes to designing and completing youth projects, adults may have their own ideas about how a project should be run or what the best project idea is for a young person to pursue.

Although adults may have good intentions, adult-led projects miss the point of youth projects through The Peterson League.

At The Peterson League, we believe it’s extremely important youth play the starring role in a project.

This helps them gain independence and develop problem-solving skills. By leading the project, youth become self-directed agents of change. They realize their actions can impact the quality of life of others in the community. These are all skills that can set youth up for a successful future.

This doesn’t mean adults should be completely out of the picture.

The Peterson League encourages youth to work with project advisers such as school teachers or other adults who want to mentor a local young person with a project idea.

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Adults are still able to participate in youth projects, but they should play a supportive role instead of performing the majority of the work.  They should intervene when necessary while giving youth the opportunity to work through problems.

While youth lead the project planning and implementation process, adults can act as overseers, making sure important tasks are completed and nudging youth in a productive direction. Adults may also need to provide support if a young person becomes frustrated and wants to drop the project.

With younger age groups (5-8 years old), adults are expected to play a much larger role in the youth project than older age groups (13-17 years old). Older youth are able to be more independent, and this should be reflected in their projects.

Here are a few ways adults and designated project advisers can help youth projects succeed:

Putting Youth First

In order for youth-led projects to succeed, adults must respect and value the potential of youth. Adults should be comfortable allowing youth to run the show and should prioritize youth involvement.

Adults should believe in the youth they mentor and offer encouragement during every step of the process. Simple praise like “good job” or a thumbs up helps provide the momentum youth need to succeed.

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Resources

Another way adults can contribute is simply by making project resources available to youth and giving them the ability to access resources. This can mean committing time and effort to volunteering to help with completing the project, providing grant writing support, and more.

Here’s the most obvious way adults can help with youth projects: providing transportation.

Unless youth are old enough to provide their own transportation, they will need help getting supplies, getting to Library 21c, etc. Transportation is a simple way adults can help youth projects succeed by allowing youth access to resources.

Youth Support

What happens if a child becomes stuck and doesn’t know what to do at any part of the youth project?

Project planning and completion is not always easy. It’s possible youth will try an approach and fail, once or multiple times.

This is a situation where adults can offer support and guidance. First, adults should listen to the young person’s concerns. Remind them failure is an essential part of success.

Adults can encourage youth to find a way forward and suggest new perspectives that may help a young person become”unstuck.”

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Intervening During Conflict

As with adults, tempers sometimes flare when youth work together. Adults may need to intervene if conflict within a youth group arises.

Adults should encourage youth to work through the problem together while providing general guidance. They can teach children how to resolve conflict with some simple conflict resolution techniques.

They can also act as role models for conflict management and display the same characteristics they want youth to mirror.

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Adults play a very important role in the lives of youth and youth projects are no different. Adults should take on project roles that allow youth to lead while offering support and guidance.

By doing this, adults can help youth successfully complete projects and gain important skills to become future leaders.

 

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