Youth as Leaders & Resources


  • To examine a “youth as resource” perspective
  • To think about youth and adult relationships in organizations and communities


  • Butcher paper/flip chart paper
  • Tape
  • Markers
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Clipboards
  • “Youth as Objects, Recipients, Resources” handouts (1 per participant)

Prepare Before

Write the numbers 1 through 10, each on its own piece of paper, and hang them up as a continuum placed along a wall. Leave enough room if possible for several people to stand at each number.

Warm Up

Have each participant think of someone their age that they feel has a lot of power. In what settings or circumstances does this person have power?


Tell participants to go stand next to the number that represents where they think the statement falls on the continuum of youth inclusion: 1 represents youth being completely excluded, and 10 represents youth being fully included, encouraged, and welcomed. Ask the participants the following questions: To what extent are young people involved in the planning, operations, and evaluation of programs and organizations that exist to promote their well being (in other words, how much influence do youth have) at the:

  • National level?
  • Community level?
  • State level?
  • School level?
  • In this program or group?

After everyone is standing at one of the numbers, ask a few participants what made them choose that number and why. Make sure that participants understand that there is no right or wrong answer – it is their opinion of what exists. Ask participants how they would like it to be, ideally.

The next section of the lesson gives participants a chance to role play. Divide into small groups and ask participants to do the following: (1) Brainstorm a list of situations in which youth tend to feel powerless and to come up with some specific examples from their experience. (2) Prepare a skit to demonstrate a situation where a young person feels powerless simply because he or she is young. Each role play should be two to three minutes long. Suggest that the groups use real-life experiences for inspiration, and encourage them to use a clear situation with clear characters.

Bring groups back together, have each group present their list of examples, and then perform its role play. After every group has presented, ask:

  • What similarities were there among the skits?
  • What themes about youth experiences can be identified from the skits?


Distribute the “Youth as Objects, Recipients, Resources” handout. Ask if there are any questions about these three styles of youth participation. Ask participants to identify how the styles are different and to name an example or two for each area.

Break participants into small groups and assign each group an area — objects, recipients, or resources. They have 10 minutes to work together. Give each group one piece of butcher paper and markers, and ask them to write examples from their lives of their assigned style. Ask each group to discuss the following:

  • What kinds of organizations and systems operate in this fashion?
  • What are some of the feelings youth might have in this style?
  • What are some of the behaviors for youth and adults in this style?


Have groups share back the themes of their brainstorm.


Have each participant name a time when they have felt respected and powerful.