Community Development

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A review of literature on previous research on the impact of youth participation

Having introduced relevant conceptual frameworks that help us to understand and explain youth participation, a review of previous research on the impact of participation on youth is now presented. What difference does participation make for youth, communities and institutions? Are there any benefits outcomes for participating? These questions guided the literature search. The evidence gathered from the literature suggests that participation has some positive outcomes for adults, youth and communities. While the thrust of the literature indicate that young people’s gain valuable skills by participating in different settings, there were studies showing that to some extent participation can be an unpleasant experience for youth. As the nature of this research requires a focal enquiry, aspects of the body of literature that focussed on the three settings (schools, municipal, youth organisations) relevant to the geographical under study were selected. It is to these studies that we now turn. Evidence showing the positive outcomes of participation

Researchers who have examined participation in youth-serving organisations suggest that there are positive outcomes for youth, adults and organisations. Zeldin et al (2000) investigated the impact of youth on adults and organisations. They conducted personal interviews and focus groups with 19 youth (12-21 years) and 29 adults from 15 youth-serving organisations in the US. These authors observed that the participation of young people had positive effects on adults and organisations. Their findings suggest that adults discover the competence of youth and enhance their (adults) commitment to the organisation. Adults also feel more confident in working with youth and begin to understand the needs and concerns of youth. This study contributed to our understanding on the impact of youth on both adults and organisations.

In New Zealand,...
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