With the summer holidays approaching fast, it’ll soon be time to start planning for the next academic year! But how can you freshen up the activities you offer to make sure young people stay interested?
We caught up with one of our member groups, Sprowston Youth Engagement Project (SYEP), to find out their tips for planning engaging activities.
SYEP run two youth cafes, in Sprowston and Old Catton, as well as a community gardening project and a football club. They also organise events which are led by young people for the benefit of the wider community. We spoke to SYEP youth worker Clare Lincoln, and Sam and David, members of SYEP’s Young Committee.
We start by asking young people what they want to do. Young people often have big ideas, so you need to know how to scale them down and make sure they are achievable, but often they are really good ideas and things that workers wouldn’t have thought of. In the past, we have organised a 1950s tea dance and a teddy bear’s picnic, which were both really successful events and were led by young people right from the start.
If you’re stuck for ideas, you can link in to other events that are happening locally or nationally; for example this year we are doing some events to tie in with the centenary of the end of the First World War. When we were planning our tea dance, we went to some similar events nearby to get some ideas for our event, and we also did a lot of research online to find out what kind of music to play and what food to serve.
It’s also a good idea to find out what skills your volunteers have. If you have a volunteer who is really good at knitting, they could lead a session and teach their skills to the young people. Or you might have someone who is really into cooking or baking.
For bigger events, like the tea dance and teddy bear’s picnic, we had weekly checklists which we put up on the wall. The checklists clearly showed what needed to be done and by when, and we were all assigned roles so we knew what we had to do. We also held regular planning meetings where we would talk about the progress we had made and see what needed to be done next.
We always hand out evaluation forms at our events so we know what went well and what we can improve next time.
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