Programme Manager Children and Young People
Date: 25 August 2021 Author: Energise Me
Following the launch of the Me & Activity report earlier this year, Youth Project Manager Emma explores what activity providers, clubs and leisure centres can do to engage and involve more young people.
We can’t emphasize this enough. In order to understand what young people want, you have to ask them. If you already have some young people that attend your activity, ask them what they like about it, or what they would change.
Try not to rely on them stepping forward and telling you that something is wrong – you need to ask them, and make it safe for them to tell you the truth. And if you can, always talk directly to young people, rather than asking other adults what they think young people want.
Yes, indoor climbing, ultimate frisbee, or sea swimming might help people get and stay fit, but it’s so much more!
Does your activity offer the opportunity to be creative? To make new friends? To enjoy the beach or park? Maybe participants will be able to learn new skills, undertake training, or even travel. And don’t underestimate the benefits that all these things can bring to people’s mental health. Share and celebrate all the extras that your activity brings to people.
When young people talk about “accessibility” they don’t just mean wheelchair ramps and accessible toilets. They mean all the adaptations and considerations that make an activity accessible and enjoyable to as many people as possible.
Maybe you offer quiet sessions for neurodiverse people. Or maybe your staff are trained in supporting LGBTQ+ children and young people. Maybe you have worked to improve security and lighting around your venue to ensure that women and girls feel safe walking to their cars or the bus stop after a session. Maybe you offer dynamic pricing schemes for different incomes.
Shout about it! Show young people all the ways that you are ready to welcome them.
We know that Generation Z – young people born after 1996 – care deeply about equality and diversity. They place great importance on family. And are sometimes called “an artist generation.” Even prior to the pandemic, some research showed that Gen Z particularly valued hygiene and cleanliness. And they like to know what to expect – from restaurant menus to leisure activities.
But what does this mean? We recommend being upfront about your policies and practices. If you have Covid safety measures in place, make sure it’s clear what they are. Or if you have an organisational safeguarding policy, why not put it on the website for everyone to see? If you can show participants what to expect from your venue, activity, or service, you should. And be creative! Share pictures and videos of your activity on Instagram, or even explore how creative technology can help young people prepare in advance.
Me & Activity showed that 39.5% of the young people surveyed preferred “informal activities e.g. Going to the gym, playing in the park or dancing in a club.” And that the biggest motivator for choosing an activity was a love for it. Fun means different things to different people, though, so see tip number 1!
Whatever your activity, following these top tips will keep it fun, safe, and engaging for young people. If you have some brilliant ideas to share or want to talk about ways we can support you to implement some of the findings from Me & Activity, get in touch!