Why be Youth-Driven?

Simon Sinek, author and TED speaker encourages people to start with the “Why” – i.e. the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires them to do what they do, before getting to the “how” or “what”.


So why “youth-driven? There are many reasons, but here are some of the most important.


When out-of-school time AND school-based programs let youth drive their education, learning and involvement many important things happen.

  • Youth engagement increases: Being youth-driven helps to attract and retain youth.   When youth have meaningful opportunities to act on their ideas and interests their participation increases, as does their engagement.
  • Youth develop 21st century and socio-emotional learning skills: Youth-driven practice supports youths’ initiative, problem-solving skills, communication, collaboration, creativity and innovation. When youth have the opportunity to work collaboratively to envision a project, create plans, lead the work and reflect on the outcomes they develop critical skills necessary for success beyond high school.
  • Youth practice being civic engaged: Youth decision-making is at the heart of youth-driven programs.   When we allow youth to have real responsibilities and play meaningful roles, it supports their development into active citizens, ready to participate in a democratic society.
  • Increases program quality: When we involve youth in authentic ways in the programs that serve them, we are able to better meet their needs and interests.

So starting with and believing in the ‘why’, allows us easier access to the ‘how’!

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