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Improving Teen Engagement in Buffalo and Erie County

Date: Nov 13, 2018
Author(s): Sara Jablonski, Hannah Sosenko, Emily Bramhall
Topic(s): Education: General, Equality / Civil Rights: General
Type: Report

This policy brief defines levels of youth engagement, considers why teens do not always participate in programs, highlights various teen-centered programs in Erie County, and shares details about programs that practice innovative teen engagement. It was created by Hannah Sosenko and Emily Bramhall, Cornell University High Road Fellows, and Sara Jablonski, Urban 4- H Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County.

Erie County offers many opportunities for teen engagement through afterschool programs, summer jobs programs, and internships. National research reveals many benefits from these programs, such as improved academic achievement, better health outcomes, and reductions in violence. Participation, however, often drops significantly after youth enter high school. A better understanding of adolescent development and youth engagement strategies, ranging from active participation to shared leadership, will draw more teens into programs and maximize their impact.

In adolescence, young people are defining who they will be as adults. However, they live in a society that often disregards their perspectives and ability to contribute. Teen programming can challenge this norm by engaging young people. This report highlights the ways in which programs can fight the decline in participation in out-of-school programs by practicing youth engagement – resulting in benefits for youth, adults, and the community alike.