Benefits to adults in developing youth and adult partnerships

Examining the benefits to adults when youth voice is utilized.

Youth-adult partnerships are often touted as a wonderful benefit to youth to build skills and bring energy to organizations.  In addition to these benefits, adults can also reap many benefits when engaged in a collaborative working relationship with youth.  According to Michigan State University Extension, when an adult is open to youth ideas and their ability to make decisions, the adult in the partnership with youth can also benefit in many ways.

This series of articles considers the benefits of youth and adult partnerships from the perspective of how adults, youth and communities benefit from youth and adult partnerships. 

Adults benefit from information about needs, concerns and interest of youth.  Many times adults think they know what issues and concerns youth are facing, but often do not actually ask the youth what they think. By having youth voice in programs and activities, adults can begin addressing actual needs and concerns of youth. 

Programs for youth are usually developed and led by adults.  Offering youth the opportunity to give feedback about existing programs can strengthen the outcomes of the program when adults begin addressing the concerns of the youth and working with them to improve programmatic outcomes. 

Creativity, energy, enthusiasm and innovative ideas are all benefits to adults when youth are collaborating as decision-makers.  Many times adults often hide behind their experience to squash creativity or the ideas of youth, but adults may actually be able to build on their experiences becoming energized by the fresh perspective youth have. 

By having youth involved as adults work to solve issues and problems they may be able to create new ways of looking at problems.  Youth often can see to the core of issues without cluttering them with past experiences or baggage. 

Giving youth a voice at the table with adults allows adults to have the opportunity to foster active community members for the future.  Practicing their decision-making skills in a safe, supportive partnership with adults builds their confidence to solve problems in their future.  Lastly, when developing youth and adult partnerships, the adults will have the satisfaction of seeing youth succeed. 

During the next sit down to plan an event for youth, participate in a community meeting brainstorming, or solve youth or community issues, it is important to ask the question, “Where Is the youth voice?”

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