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Engaging programs will inspire youth to actively participate in HIV prevention. To create an engaging program, organizations will likely need to involve youth as peer leaders and evaluators, apply youth development principles, be cognizant of diverse learning styles, and support adults to be youth allies.

Advantages of Creating Engaging Programs

According to Advocates for Youth, organizational benefits of engaging youth in prevention programming include:

  • Fresh ideas and new perspectives on decision making
  • Candid responses about existing services
  • Access to data that may be available only to youth
  • More effective outreach
  • Greater acceptability of messages and services
  • Increased synergy from youth energy and adult professional skills
  • Enhanced credibility of the organization to both youth and advocates

Additional advantages for organizations creating engaging programs may include:

  • Increased youth participation in program activities (i.e., recruitment)
  • Continued youth participation in program over time (i.e., retention)

According to Advocates for Youth, benefits to the youth themselves include:

  • Increased status in the community
  • Improved competencies, self-esteem, and skills
  • Experience as leaders
  • Greater knowledge and understanding of other cultures
  • Increased self-discipline and schedule management
  • Greater appreciation of adults' multiple roles
  • Broader career choices

Additional advantages for youth participating in engaging programs may include:

  • Increased knowledge of sexual health and HIV prevention/treatment
  • Broader network of adult support
Testimonial Headshot
Our high school Peer Educators determine the issues that are important to them and develop performance-based workshops based on their lives/stories."

Maranda - Washington, DC

Challenges of Creating Engaging Programs

Organizations often need to take a step back and determine if their programs are attracting youth, involving them in activities, and keeping them interested. In order for programs to remain engaging, they must be updated, integrate youth input, and keep in mind that youth have competing priorities and interests. 

Photo of Maranda Ward
Maranda Ward

Maranda’s experience as a peer educator during college led her to start an organization committed to youth development. With her guidance, young people organize outreach events and community-building activities.

Toolkit Resource

This Adolescent Health Initiative Spark training on being youth-friendly contains presentation slides and activities for both youth-serving organizations and health centers.

Page last updated: May 2018