Promote peer relationships and safety in 4-H clubs

Bring youth into the promotion of the Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles within their own clubs, beginning with principles one and two.

After introducing and exploring the seven Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles for Positive Youth Development, youth may then move toward the goal of incorporating each principle into their club and individual project work. As a group, encourage them to establish why they want the principles to be part of the club’s goal for the 4-H year. The seven guiding principles should be posted in large print for each meeting.

Begin with principle one: "Youth develop positive relationships with adults and peers."
Pull out the nouns from the principle: “youth,” “relationships,” “adults” and “peers.” Discuss what these terms mean to the group. Talk with the group about positive relationships. The adult or teen leaders may review the four elements suggested for effective practice found on the Michigan 4-H website. Develop a chart that the group may use to show effective practice of this principle. Gold stars can be placed on the chart at the end of the meeting to show the elements of effective practices. The club could agree on a celebration when they reach a milestone. Fifty gold stars and the club earns an ice cream party.

Then move on to guiding principle two: "Youth are physically and emotionally safe."
Young people and adults learn best in an atmosphere of warmth and acceptance. Discuss the terms “honesty,” “trust” and “respect.” Role play several situations that the leaders have written and prepared beforehand to demonstrate a safe and unsafe environment. Each 4-H’er will bring different experiences and abilities to the group. By accepting the members at their developmental stages, the leader can help make 4-H a rewarding and fun experience.

Emphasize that a structured, yet flexible, atmosphere encourages the youth to try new experiences through positive risk-taking.

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