A key part of a health promotion approach is the active and meaningful participation of the people whose health you are trying to enhance. Young people should be involved in the process from beginning to end. This is known as youth engagement.
Why engage youth?
There are many reasons to engage young people in health promotion initiatives. Youth engagement:
- It respects youth rights and fosters democracy: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child enshrines children’s right to self-expression and to take part in matters that affect their lives. Being involved while one is young builds a foundation for involvement in the community over one’s lifetime.
- Strengthens protective factors and resilience, and supports positive growth and development: Youth who are engaged have opportunities to develop supportive relationships with adults and peers. They practise and strengthen their living skills. The initiatives they undertake can also help to create supportive environments in their schools and communities.
- Builds social inclusion: Involving diverse groups of youth provides opportunities for excluded youth to feel more connected to and respected in their community. Youth engagement builds connections and understanding among groups of youth and between youth and other parts of the community. Groups and organizations are more likely to be able to reach and engage diverse groups of youth when they take steps to reflect the diversity within their community.
- Improves health promotion programs and policies: When young people share their experiences, perspectives, and solutions, better decisions get made about the design of programs, services and policies. The end result? Programs, services and policies are more responsive, effective, and sustainable.
Visit the Toolbox for resources to promote youth engagement.
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