How to engage youth in community work and activism

The Role of Youth in Community Development For a Better Tomorrow

How can youth help the local community? And what are the ways you can engage them?

“The future of the world belongs to the youth of the world, and it is from the youth and not from the old that the fire of life will warm and enlighten the world. It is your privilege to breathe the breath of life into the dry bones of many around you.”

Tom Mann

So, how exactly does a youth go about following the footsteps of a world shaped with unity and positivity? Well, it begins in the community. The civic responsibilities and values that they hold will go a long way in shaping a better society wherever that may be.

How community work shapes and bonds us

Engaging them within the community is a duty that they should be taught, and encouraging them to participate in community activities will help them personally, socially, and even professionally. 

There is a plethora of social work within the community that garners their help and services because, let’s face it, like a well-oiled machine, teamwork and team participation churn out the best results. 

Through volunteer work, they will polish their skills such as leadership skills, teamwork, communication skills, and many other soft skills. Volunteering to help by feeding the homeless or stray dogs or cats, providing free tuition classes to students in need, or help build houses for those in need, will go a long way in understanding the importance of unity, being helpful, and again, team spirit. 

In the North-Eastern state of India, Mizoram, every locality of every city or town, or village has an NGO for youth called YMA(Young Mizo Association), wherein at least one person from each family is a volunteer member. In times of tragedy and disasters, they are always the people who will do so much more than even the police.

For instance, in times of death in the community, they are the ones who arrange the funerals, dig the graves, provide food during the overnight funerals, carry the coffin, and handle all the clean-ups. This association has set up a task force since 2020 to ensure that no individual breaks any COVID-19 lockdown and curfew rules. Through community donations, these task forces can uphold the safety of their communities to this day. 

Through these volunteer works, the youths of today will learn, understand, and take initiatives when any crisis occurs in years to come. 

How to engage youth in community activism and work?

Civic responsibilities do shape our youths in more ways than one. So, how do you encourage youths to engage in the community?

Well, first and foremost, they need to have a passion and a vision. To do that, they need to be educated and well-informed about the crisis at hand, for instance, this pandemic. Leaders should convey the importance of the youths’ participation by creating a vision for them. They should provide them with a concrete plan of action to let them know that the youth would spend their time worthwhile. 

Launching youth-led initiatives will give them a sense of importance in their duties, thus motivating them to do their best. Moreover, with the supervision of just an adult or two, they will be more dedicated to someone and always to encourage them.

Once you’ve reeled them in to join the good cause, they will be more inclined to take on more responsibilities once they realize how the execution of their civic duties has helped the community. The more responsibility they take on, the more committed they will be. 

Moreover, in a world run by mostly Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Xennials, youths have many new approaches to bring to the table. Utilizing their skills will boost their team spirit and allow it to inspire them more. Bear in mind that their opinions are also to be valued and not dismissed irrationally. The old and the young should make a fine combination to get the best outcome. 

Looking to the future

The vicious coronavirus has been known to claim the lives of the older generations at a higher rate. However, with the Delta variants, such is not the case anymore as the virus has now even begun to claim the lives of even the healthiest and fittest youths. So, the best chance for the human race to beat this deadly virus is to utilize every resource possible and work in harmony in a community.

Engaging youths in these decision-making initiatives will allow youths to not only utilize and polish their skills but also help them in their overall development. 

It is the perfect way to mold the community’s future leaders to even the country or the world. As resourceful as they are, it is also essential to bear in mind that these youths will likely have other prior engagements such as their studies or jobs. Maintaining a proper timetable that meets their schedules would be a wise way to reel them in. 

For most of them, a career in community development just could be their calling, as it offers quite a vast scope.

There are many Community Development courses where one could learn about anthropology, urban studies, and political science. One could learn and polish skills such as growing organizations, monitoring and evaluating programs, and sustainable nature use. 

So, it is safe to say that youth having a passion for volunteer work in their community will be more dedicated, self-regarding, and motivated people. 

They will also be open-minded, understanding, resourceful, logical, and patriotic, which are all the qualities that every great leader must possess. 

An open letter…

Dear Youth,

Participating in volunteer work will open doors for you socially, personally, and professionally. It is the best way to develop both your soft and hard skills. Being there for your community when they need you will go a long way in motivating yourself and strive to be a better neighbor and leader. 

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