Youth are more likely to embrace programs when they are involved in the design, implementation, and evaluation. Engaging youth benefits organizations, HIV prevention programs, and youth themselves. Engagement techniques include creating interesting programs, inclusive environments, and safe spaces for youth.

Advantages of Youth Engagement

Organizations and HIV prevention programs benefit from engaging youth in a variety of ways. Programs that are designed, implemented, and evaluated in partnership with youth are more likely to engage youth effectively. Peer-led programs use the power and influence of peers to promote knowledge and encourage desirable actions, outcomes, and attitudes. Engaging youth as participants, volunteers, and employees is a powerful way to support healthy adolescent development and reduce HIV risk behaviors.

Youth HIV Facts

Only 35% of high school health programs provide services specifically for gay, lesbian, and bisexual students.
Source: 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Challenges of Youth Engagement

Successfully engaging youth in HIV prevention requires organizations to do more than simply implement an evidence-based intervention. Organizations should be sure to prepare to:

  • Recruit, train, and support youth as peer leaders
  • Use different types of activities and facilitation techniques, including social media, technology, and experiential activities
  • Apply youth development principles
  • Involve youth in participatory evaluation
  • Encourage staff, parents, and community members to serve as allies to youth in their communities
  • Use youth-friendly approaches, such as peer support groups
  • Create safe spaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth

The pages in this section provide practical tools and resources to assist youth-serving providers in creating engaging programs and inclusive environments for youth.

Don't be afraid to get dirty. Acknowledge and work through what makes you uncomfortable. When your consciousness is met with humbleness and solidarity, you can establish a collaboration with youth."

Justin - Washington, DC

Page last updated: April 2018