How to Start a Youth Council

There is no standardized model for how to create a youth council. Cities have different agendas, and establishing a youth council may translate into distinctive areas of interest and activities for each city. The key to success is to integrate the unique assets of your city with existing knowledge, such as the best practices and critical elements of effective youth councils compiled in this guide. Also keep in mind that a youth council should be an inspirational opportunity for youth, not a necessity that adults have determined. For this reason, it is important to involve youth in all phases of designing and starting a youth council.

Overall, cities should pay attention to four types of issues when designing and facilitating a youth council’s longevity and sustainability:

  1. Setting. Advance a youth-friendly community that welcomes young people and recognizes the importance of their voices in planning, public policy, and decision-making.
  2. Structure. Enhance and maintain conditions that support the interests of both the local government and the youth.
  3. Strategy. Design a sufficiently flexible strategy that allows your community to initiate a variety of activities and provides young people meaningful ways to engage with local government.
  4. Support. Create a sustainable network of supportive and passionate adult allies within and outside the local government to maintain and increase young people’s opportunities to get involved and have a real impact.

Advancing these main issues requires attention to multiple types of practical questions, which are identified in this guide – from the planning phase to recruitment, training, meetings, activities, long-term sustainability, and evaluation.

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