Be An Ally to Young People: The Power of Listening

Teenage girl being mentored by mature woman while sitting outdoors

Young people have great ideas for how to create meaningful change in their communities. Adults can play a powerful role by listening, trusting and supporting them in their journey. Here are 5 ways adults can become strong allies to young people.

  1. Be authentic
    Young people can tell when adults around them don’t take them seriously. Engage authentically with kids and teens so they know they can trust you to tell the truth and provide accurate information
  2. Create space
    Tell young people that their opinions matter and create space for young changemakers to use their voices. Empower youth by boosting their message, not your own.
  3. Share power
    Treat young people with respect and give them a say. Include them in decisions that affect them and work together to reach goals. Create opportunities for young people to be heard and lead on issues important to them.
  4. Check your assumptions
    It is important in any relationship to acknowledge, interrogate and challenge our assumptions. In being an ally for young people, name and check your assumptions about youth and youth leadership. Recognize the strengths, abilities and worldviews of young people, and don’t expect them to be the same as yours.
  5. Step back
    It may be hard, but sometimes the role of an adult ally is to step back. Advise when needed, but think of your allyship as a long-term investment. By giving young people the chance to lead now, they’ll become the experts when they’re adults.

​​​​​​​Adults can work to empower the next generation of changemakers while still providing youth with guidance, structure, mentoring and support. Youth-led movements present an opportunity for adults to help youth voices be heard. Together, we can empower all changemakers to be effective advocates, capable of creating meaningful change on the issues that are important to them.