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Youth Development and Evaluation


Principles of Youth Participatory Evaluation

In June 2002, a group gathered at the Wingspread Conference Center in Racine, Wisconsin for the Wingspread Symposium on Youth Participation in Community Research (PDF) [1]. The purpose of the symposium was to develop strategies that would further youth engagement in community research and evaluation, and advance this new field of practice and inquiry.

One outcome of the symposium was the drafting of the Wingspread Declaration of Principles of Youth Participation in Community Research and Evaluation. In these principles, "youth participation in community evaluation research is conceived as a democratic process that seeks to equalize power between youth and adults, recognizes their respective roles and responsibilities, and places special emphasis on involving those youth that are traditionally underrepresented" [2].

While these principles were developed specifically in relation to research, they apply to many forms of youth engagement.

Wingspread Declaration of Principles for Youth Participation in Community Research and Evaluation

  1. Youth participation in community research and evaluation transforms its participants. It transforms our ways of knowing, the strategies we devise, the methods we employ, and our program of work.
  2. Youth participation promotes youth empowerment. It recognizes the experience and expertise of all young people, and respects their leadership capacities and potential contributions.
  3. Youth participation builds mutually liberatory partnerships. It values the assets of all ages, and fosters supportive and respectful youth-youth and youth-adult working relationships.
  4. Youth participation equalizes power relationships between youth and adults. It establishes a level playing field in which participants are clear about the purpose of the process and the power imbalances between groups. It structures environments that respect the involvement of young people, and train adults in supporting genuine youth decision-making and leadership development.
  5. Youth participation is an inclusive process that recognizes all forms of democratic leadership, young and old. It involves diverse populations and perspectives, especially those who are traditionally underserved and underrepresented.
  6. Youth participation involves young people in meaningful ways. Young people participate in all stages of the process, from defining the problem, to gathering and analyzing the information, to making decisions and taking action.
  7. Youth participation is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Participants continuously clarify and reflect upon its purpose, process, and content. Research and evaluation are viewed as an integral part of knowledge development, program planning, and community improvement.


[1]   School of Social Work, University of Michigan. (2002). Wingspread symposium on youth participation in community research: Summary of proceedings. (PDF)
[2]   Checkoway, B., Dobbie, D., Richards-Schuster, K. (2003). Youth engagement in community evaluation research. CYD Journal, 4 (1).
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