Reflections on the Opportunities and Challenges of Youth Engagement: Youth and Professional Perspectives
This paper documents the opportunities and challenges experienced by youth leaders and community agency partners in our community-based research project on youth engagement. Participants provided reflective statements, based on their experiences during the course of this multi-year project. Specifically, these insights focused on (a) youth-oriented and collaborative research processes (for example highlighting youth voice—“bottom-up process for youth by youth,” and co-learning and team work); (b) group dynamics (for example, common purpose, dealing with transformation, relationship and trust-building, and power issues); and (c) benefits for community youth-serving agencies and youth themselves, for example, capacity-building, grounded in youth experiences through participatory research, and knowledge translation and practical application—advancing research into action). The process of being involved in this research was coined an “amazing journey” to facilitate positive change and transformation within the youth and community partners. Understanding such youth engagement issues has implications for better supporting high-risk youth and their families in order to enhance the quality of their lives in a meaningful, sustainable way.
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