Young people came up with messaging that brought tobacco rates to the lowest they’ve been in decades and have reshaped how we talk about childhood obesity, teen pregnancy, stress, and a myriad of other topics. No one can influence a teenage behavior more than their peer, so having young people create and deliver your message is critical to success.
Transitioning from a young person to the adult in charge who now manages these projects, I understand the mental leap of faith this proposition requires. You feel like you’re giving the reigns to a program that is near and dear to your heart to a kid who may currently know nothing about it. I’ve made that leap numerous times with students, and each time I’m reminded why we do this work. When young people are guided through the process, educated, and empowered to be an equal partner and given the proper resources, they deliver far more than we ever imagined.
Young people are waiting for the opportunity to give their input, shape programs and get involved. This generation is always looking for an opportunity to make a difference. They want to put their stamp on the world. When it comes to youth marketing, we are there to facilitate this process so everyone wins. The youth engagement ladder is a classic way of understanding what role youth have in the process.