One of the best things about working with youth in public health is that they bring a new outlook on issues that many people have been working on for decades, and it’s refreshing. However, in today’s world of fast-paced advances, new technology, and constant innovation, keeping youth engaged in long-term advocacy can be challenging. Here are a few ways to fight issue fatigue and keep youth excited about their work!
Make It Relevant
Youth need to know how and why an issue is important and, most importantly, how it affects them personally. Make sure you take enough time to provide facts about the issue, as well as how their work helps to solve the problems it presents. Work on youth testimonies so they have to think independently about why the issue is important to them.
If the work being done is moving forward and making progress, youth are more likely to continue to be engaged. If possible, you can attend events and give the youth a chance to engage people in their communities about the issue, or use opportunities within their schools or extra-curricular activities to give platforms for youth to speak and interact with people to educate or advocate on the issue. If they feel like what they are doing is making a difference, youth are more likely to stay engaged.
Have a Plan
Whether it’s a campaign plan with concrete goals or a calendar of what your group will be doing throughout the year, having something that youth can plan around will increase commitment and attendance at events and meetings. Remember, these youth have a lot going on, so the earlier your activities are on their calendar, the more likely youth will prioritize them.
If you are working on an issue long-term, you have the opportunity to spend time covering it in-depth and giving the youth the information and experience they need to feel that they are experts on the topic. These youth can become bold leaders, able to speak confidently on the topic in both formal and informal settings without having to rely on their adult leader. This empowerment is extremely effective in keeping them involved.
Make It Fun
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to make time to make the work fun. It’s worth the effort to create a discussion or game in place of a lecture, make fun contests, and take time to invest in the youth as individuals. Fostering the relationship between you and the youth; the youth with their peers; and everyone with the work they are doing will help build loyalty to their shared goals.
Issue fatigue is real, but if you are already trying to fight it, you are halfway to beating it. These are just a few suggestions to keep things fresh and interesting. Do you have ideas? Comment below to share them across the Youth Engagement Alliance.