Top 10 Things Adults Can Do With Youth
In the spirit of Dave Letterman, Middle Earth brings you a “Top Ten List” for teens! Our current adolescents are the next generation of leaders, so regardless of whether you’re a parent, teacher or just a community member, it is in the interest of all adults to engage youth and instill responsibility and meaning in their lives. Here are some ideas:
- Talk! Why not have a real conversation with a young person? Ask a young person what they want to do and how you can help make that happen.
- Involve young people in meaningful roles. Listen to young people express their concerns and perspectives about community issues and help them take action. Make the concerns of young people visible in your community by helping them get their foot in the door.
- Start a parent support group to share ideas, concerns, and ways to listen better to children.
- Be a friend to a young person! Treat youth as individuals; don’t make one youth represent all young people. Respect young people as you would a peer. Avoid interrupting young people. Confide in a young person and ask their advice on issues that you are struggling with. Take advantage of young people who are learned in the Internet and learn together by surfing the Web.
- Be an advocate for youth by making sure they’re at the table when you are discussing them. Include youth on committees in your schools, faith-based environments, and community.
- Help with positive activities for youth such as sports teams, hobby clubs, music, drama, scouts, etc. Kids who are passionate about something positive rarely have time to get involved in other activities that are negative.
- Involve interested young people as consultants, interns, apprentices, and staff. Be an advocate for youth/adult partnerships in your workplace.
- Offer ways for youth to get involved! Team up with young people to support candidates for local, state, and national office who make listening to and working with young people a priority. Serve on an advisory council for a youth-led effort. Join (or form) with young people a community task force to address youth issues and coordinate responses. Provide transportation to young people who would not otherwise be able to participate in community activities.
- Help arrange for youth to have their concerns and recommendations heard. For example, help young people create a newsletter for your community on youth and other community issues. Write a letter to the editor about youth issues with a young person. If you know someone at a radio station, have them sponsor a call-in show led by youth that allows them to talk about their concerns. Another idea is to arrange for a meeting between youth and the mayor or city council.
- Help young people create a listing of all opportunities for youth involvement in your community. Post it in your local library and schools. Have realtors give it to new families in town.
Adapted from Search Institute’s “50 Things Adults Can Do for Youth”