Over the past ten to fifteen years, participation of children and youth has becoming increasingly important. Experts link participation to various connotations. In the social debate on children and youth participation, the term is chiefly used as an umbrella term for various forms of participation, co-management, codetermination, representative participation, partaking, sharing and shaping (taken from http://www.ganztaegig-lernen.org).
Are you considering starting a participation project?
You can choose from various participation levels (Network, Platform Youth, blauring-jungwacht, 2005, p. 35):
|Self-management||A youth group has complete power of decision; adults are simply informed about any decision made.|
|Self-determination||Initiative and implementation lies with the youth. Supportive adults are involved.|
|Co-determination||Adults contribute project idea; decisions are reached jointly.|
|Assistance||The youth's opinion is asked for. The youth has no decision-making power.|
|Allocated, informed||Adults prepare. Youth are informed in detail.|
|Participation||Youth participate and can shape the process on a small scale.|
Youth should be able to determine the extent of their involvement. Depending on the project phase, children and youth can be involved to a greater or lesser degree.
|Voluntary||You cannot force youth to participate. Let youth determine when and how they want to participate.|
|Self-determination||Youth decide for themselves, which topics they want to work on.|
|Process-oriented||Conflicts determine group work. Try to motivate youth to stay on board despite conflicts.|
|Target groups||The methods should cater for the target group of the project (age, gender, schooling background).|
Participation of children and youth in projects
Participation means including children and youth in each and every project phase - planning, organisation, implementation, evaluation – as much as possible.
Here you will find an overview of exciting methods to work with children and youth in a participative manner: http://www.partizipation.at/methods.html
To choose the right method, think about these questions:
- What is the objective of this project stage? (Needs analysis, scheduling, planning an event, allocation of responsibilities, etc.)
- What are the traits of the group (e.g. age, gender, school background)?
- How much time does the group have for the stage in question?
- Which form of discussion results are most useful for the next project step?
What works in youth participation: case studies from around the world
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