Involve Young People

Build Skills:

Planning great stuff for young people

When planning great stuff for young people, it helps to first consider your needs, aims and objectives. Then work out the methods you’ll use, the opportunities you’ll offer and how you’ll actually put your plan into action.

Before you start any planning, it’s best to read the First Steps article, to help consider attitudes, opportunities and diversity.

Clear purpose

If young people are going to get involved in your project, group, event or activity, they’ll want to see a clear purpose. Think about how you can communicate this. It might be something personal – like learning new skills or meeting new people. Or it may be an opportunity for them to improve their local community. (It’s also OK if the purpose is simply to have fun!).

“We don’t hide under the fact that you’re making a big social impact. Once you focus on why you’re doing something, people are more attracted to do it” – Lizzie, Oaktree Foundation.

To help you explain your purpose, work out your needs, aims and objectives. These are the first three parts of a NAOMIE planning framework.

Using a NAOMIE framework

This is one way to help plan a project, event or activity. NAOMIE stands for:

  • Needs

are the reasons why you’re doing what you’re doing. What is the need, or gap you are trying to address, or issue you are trying to solve? (What does your organisation need? What do young people need?).

  • Aims

are the outcomes you hope to achieve by involving young people. Aims should be clear and realistic.

  • Objectives

show what needs to happen to achieve the aims. Again, these should be clear and realistic.

  • Methods

are the opportunities you will you offer and the resources will you need (i.e. staff/volunteers, skills, materials, funding/budget).

  • Implementation

is how you will actually put your plan into action, and what your timeline and deadlines are.

is how you find out if you’ve been successful.

Here’s a quick example:


  • The sports club needs new members to survive.
  • Local young people say they want more things to do.


  • To bring more young members into the sports club.
  • To support more young members to take a role in club decision-making.


  • To promote club membership to all young people in the area.
  • To recruit more young people from different backgrounds.
  • To learn how young people want to be involved in club decision-making.


  • Ask existing young members to help lead the promotion and recruitment.
  • Speak with local youth services to get their support and advice.
  • Approach members of different community groups to build relationships and promote opportunities.
  • Ask young people how they would like to become involved in the club.
  • Us the club to hold a meeting with young people.


  • Week 1 – find existing young members to help. Arrange meeting with local youth services.
  • Weeks 2 & 3 – promote opportunities to young people and community.
  • Week 4 – hold a BBQ ‘open-afternoon’ at the club, and invite young people to attend.


  • Week 5 – follow up with old and new young members to get their feedback on the BBQ.
Identifying opportunities

In creating your framework, you’ll need to identify the opportunities you want to offer. The best projects, events and programs that involve young people are ones that:

  • young people see as relevant to their lives, backgrounds and experiences
  • enable them to address issues in ways that respond to their own priorities, interests, and needs
  • allow them to take part in a safe environment, particularly where the issues are personally confronting or challenging.

Whether you’re offering informal or formal opportunities, they should:

  • provide chances for young people’s self-expression and creativity,
  • be flexible,
  • include activities that have a purpose – where young people will personally get something out of it
  • provide chances to socialise and have fun.

Effective youth programs:

  • provide opportunities for skill development and capacity building across a range of domains including education, civic participation, physical development, emotional development, employment skills
  • provide opportunities for leadership, including genuine involvement in decision making
  • encourage young people to reflect on their identity
  • support young people to develop social awareness.

To make an activity or project really enjoyable, build in opportunities for:

  • relaxing or just hanging out with other young people
  • interactive or experiential learning and self-discovery
  • identifying personal goals and developing skills
  • decision-making and leadership
  • making real, meaningful contributions to the local, and wider, community.

For some ideas of different opportunities you can offer, read the Ways to involve young people article.

Involve young people from the start

Involving young people in your planning right from the start – will help you identify opportunities that are engaging and accessible for other young people. Seek and encourage diverse groups to get involved. Try to get young people interested from as many different backgrounds and as possible, especially those who you might not have involved before.

Remove barriers

It’s important to recognise that there a number of different barriers that might prevent young people from participating in any opportunity you offer. Read the How to really support young people article to learn how to remove these barriers.

Making things ‘youth-friendly’

Want to make your group or organisation youth-friendly’? Here are some tips from youth-led organisations:

  • Make young people feel welcome with positive energy
  • Keep a relaxed, friendly atmosphere
  • Create a communal set-up with no closed doors
  • Provide food and share it with everyone
  • Hold a social event just before or after a meeting
Get connected and get supported

If you need some support in your planning, connect with groups and organisations who are already working with young people. Identify opportunities to partner with other groups so you can share skills and pool resources and expertise. Your local youth services will be a great place to start – just remember that that they are there to support, not to do their job for you.

What you can do now

What you can do now


Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) (2012) A national plan for child and youth wellbeing, A review of the literature, November 2012

Black B., Walsh, L. & Taylor, F. 2011 Young people on the margins: What works in youth participation, Youth Studies Australia Vol 30 (1).

Burns, J., Phillippa, C.,  Blanchard, M., De-Freitas, N., and Lloyd, S. (2008), Preventing youth disengagement and promoting engagement, ARACY.

Pittman, K. And Martin, S. (2007) Core Principles for Engaging Young People in Community Change,The Forum for Youth InvestmentAnderson Williams, Oasis/Community IMPACT

Sullivan, T. K. (2011), Youth Engagement: More than a method. A way of life for healthy youth and community development. A white paper written for the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development , Minnesota: University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development,

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