The Freechild Project believes that both young people and adults have the power to help our
communities become vibrant, enriching places to live.
However, facilitating young people and adults working together
can be challenging. The following tips can be helpful when
you are working to create Youth-Adult Partnerships. For more
information and resources about Youth-Adult Partnerships, visit
Resources for Adults webpage.
The following includes tips
and information that can help YOU create lasting and sustainable
When youth and
adults work together, they must face some key questions about
themselves: Do I appreciate different perspectives? What
stereotypes do I have about others? Do I judge people based on
their clothes rather than their abilities? Why should I be open
to working with youth/adults? Adults and young people must be
willing to honestly address their stereotypes and preconceptions
to work together effectively.
Speak By Listening.
regardless of age, have the potential to be both teachers and
students. Unfortunately, we are often too pressed for time,
overly task-oriented, or limited by traditional roles, so we
neglect to really communicate with one another. Young people
must take a stand for positive change and demand that their
voices be heard. Adults should step back and listen – really
listen – to the concerns of young people.
3. Make It Meaningful.
All people - youth & adults -
need to feel that they are contributing to their communities.
Young people and adults can work together to create meaningful and
challenging opportunities to change our communities. Respect both youth and adults,
by thinking about schedules, transportation needs, and other commitments when
planning meetings and gatherings. And don’t forget to recognize
Spread the Wealth.
when involved in the decision-making that will affect their
lives, grow more capable, responsible, and trusting of adults.
By working with young people, adults become more energized,
creative, and insightful. Adults and youth who recognize the
benefits of working together are great ambassadors to their own
peer groups. Spread the work – youth and adults who work as
allies develop a broader base of support and build stronger
Read through these questions and ask yourself if you're really
ready to create partnerships with young people? Young
people, are you
really ready to work with adults?
respect and value the opinions of others no matter how old
DO I seek
to involve a diverse group of people in my programs and
my motivation for working with youth/adults?
expect one person to represent the opinions of all youth or
willing to let go of some of my own control in order to share
WHY DO I
want to work with adults/youth?
WHAT CAN ADULTS DO?
moral support, encouragement, and a little bit of wisdom- with
connections with other supportive adults in the community
young people to help recruit other young people
telephone, copier, fax machine, computers, etc.
people to find the answers and make mistakes
that activities are safe and appropriate
transportation to projects, community organizations or other
From YAC Tracks: A Step-By-Step
Guide for Organizing Community Action Coalitions – the Kansas
Office for Community Service and the Points of Light Foundation,
Take Practical Steps.
Build a team
of young people and adults working together with a common
essential: without basic respect and trust, youth leadership
young leaders with care and support… young people lack the
experience to know that a failure is not the end of the world:
they need encouragement and support to learn from mistakes
opportunities for reflection through writing and discussion: a
key factor in effective leadership is the ability to learn
from experiences and to apply them
program veterans or older peers in training roles
tokenism: one or two students on a board may be intimidated or
feel inadequate representing all their peers
and maintain accountability
responsibilities at appropriate levels – too high: failure is
guaranteed; too low: you insult their intelligence and risk
young people in the process of delegating responsibilities
behaviors you expect from youth leaders
Based on information from The Generator, Fall
1992, p. 24, The National Youth Leadership Council, Minneapolis,
a Look Inside.
Ultimately, we all have to ask ourselves "What is the purpose of
youth-adult partnerships?" If we answer that we honesty and
integrity, we may find that there are great motivations for this
action. We may also discover that we have ulterior motives that
aren't so great. Either way, the moral of the story is that we have
to be sincere in our desire to engage in partnerships, or else they
are bound to fail. Meet the task. Make change now.
The Freechild Project. (2002).
Youth-Adult Partnerships Tip Sheet. Olympia, WA: