Youth engagement activity guide

What is youth engagement?

We believe youth engagement is a critical way to connect the work of volunteers in their communities with the work of students in their classrooms, community centers, parks, neighborhoods and homes. Children who service learn will engage with the issues affecting their communities and grow into active adult citizens.

Objectives of youth engagement

  • Help children learn about larger social issues addressed by the service project.
  • Develop life and classroom skills in conjunction with the project.
  • Complete a worthwhile service project that helps the community.
  • Reflect on any challenges and celebrate the accomplishments of the project.


Youth engagement is a teaching method that combines academic instruction, meaningful service, and critical reflective thinking to enhance student learning and civic responsibility. Youth engagement differs from community service or volunteerism in two major ways:

  1. The service activity is integrated with academic curriculum and content
  2. Students engage in structured reflection of their service experiences and apply their learning in real-life activities.

An effective youth engagement project helps students learn and develop through participation in organized service that meets the needs of their communities. Youth engagement projects should be coordinated with an educational or community service program. The project should provide structured time for students to reflect on the service experience. Ultimately, participation in youth engagement activities will help to foster civic responsibility among students.

Implementation for KaBOOM! builds

KaBOOM! strives to increase the integration and connection of children and youth into the planning and implementation of community-built play space projects from Design Day through to Build Day and even through to the maintenance and upkeep of the play space. The KaBOOM! community-build model instills confidence and creativity in the community, empowering and inspiring citizens to continue working to create positive change in their communities. These impacts can and should extend to children, as they are equally important members of a community.

The youth engagement plan deliberately integrates children into the community-build process. The activity guide includes lesson plans that parallel the activities that would be undertaken by a community-build playground planning committee. The lesson plans are meant as a guide and can certainly be modified to meet the needs and desires of your students and the community. They follow the PARC model: Preparation, Action, Reflection and Celebration. Each activity should integrate these four elements for maximum effectiveness with students.

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