Investing in youth as our next-generation government leaders paves the way for a bright, healthy future. Helping young people take on meaningful roles, advocate for what’s important to them, and grow in their leadership skills and knowledge is crucial. From organizing marches to emailing government officials to working on political campaigns, youth can be empowered and encouraged to become government leaders. We offer ideas on how you can start developing young leaders.
Teach youth how government works
Understanding the political process helps youth develop leadership skills and feel confident in advocacy. Consider offering hands-on workshops that immerse youth in a legislative, parliamentary or election process. For example, they can propose bills to vote on in a mock legislature, participate in parliamentary debates or practice public speaking skills by presenting a Speech from the Throne (perhaps about their pet or their school). To create a professional environment, provide youth with leadership giveaways, like spiral notebooks and pens.
Engage with social media
Social media helps you engage with future leaders. To interact with as many as possible, use the social platforms most popular with youth. For 34% of teens, Snapchat® is their most important social network. TikTok® is second, with 29% of teens saying it’s their favourite. Instagram® is also widely used by youth.
Post short educational videos and highlight proposed local, provincial/territorial or federal legislation that will directly impact youth’s hometowns. You can also post public officials’ phone numbers and email addresses, with a call-to-action for youth to contact officials and advocate for or against a cause.
Host design contests
From designing “I voted” stickers to campaign signs, a design contest helps develop young leaders who may otherwise feel like leadership isn’t for them. Categorize the contest by age and deliverable (such as billboards, stickers and yard signs). You could also ask your local newspaper or TV station to feature the top winner. Reward the winners and runners-up with items like a local ice cream shop gift card, a laptop backpack or a waterproof wireless speaker.
Offer meeting opportunities
From their mayor to their federal Member of Parliament, meeting with elected officials can make government leadership seem more realistic for young people. Meeting with officials also puts a face to the name that youth are contacting about issues important to them. To help our future leaders make the most of their meetings, encourage them to think of a few talking points beforehand. What questions would they like to ask? Is there an issue they want to discuss?
Offer job shadowing and internships
Some government offices allow job shadowing and many offer internships. Experiencing the day-to-day operations of leadership is great preparation for future leaders. They can discover government roles and get a feel for the challenges leaders face. When a future leader arrives to shadow or intern, hand them leadership giveaways, like a mug imprinted with an inspirational quote.
Create a youth-focused committee
Investing in our future leaders starts with a clear focus. Assemble a committee for the sole purpose of educating and engaging youth in leadership. The committee can run campaigns to boost youth involvement and hold interactive leadership classes. Or focus on recruiting young poll workers and registering youth who are old enough to vote. Young people aged 18-25 have a lower voter turnout than any other age group, so it’s critical that the next generation recognizes the importance of voting.
Invest in future leaders
Investing in the next generation by developing young leaders in government helps keep society strong and healthy. With ideas like teaching youth the political process and offering job shadowing opportunities, you’ll reap the rewards of investing in future leaders.