When I talk with youth workers about how to engage youth I talk about the BIG 3. These are three questions that youth wrestle with:
- Who am I?
- Where do I belong?
- What am I to do?
The first question deals with identity; the second, community and the third question deals with purpose.
A basic youth need is to develop self-worth through meaningful contribution.
For youth workers that means to help youth find their voice, find their passion and get involved. Youth should find their purpose and figure out how to use that purpose in a way that is bigger than themselves.
This contribution often looks different for each youth. It is unique because of who the youth is and where they feel they want to get involved. Maybe it is a local youth council, volunteering at church or at a community center, or being part of school activities.
Youth simply need to know that they can contribute something to the world. That who they are, and the things they can do, matters to the world around them.
Not sure how to get the ball rolling in helping youth get plugged in somewhere? Ask them some good questions, what they like to do, what are some of their talents and passions? For instance, if a young man loves basketball try to see if he could volunteer to coach young kids.
You are a great resource for youth because you are able to see some of these connections better than them and have your own social network to tap into to get them involved. As you walk with youth help them to leave a mark on the community they are a part of.