Impact of Youth Service Program Design on Youth Engagement, Communities and Organizations
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Youth service and volunteerism support healthy development and financial prosperity for youth while providing solutions to community issues. Previous studies have highlighted that engaging youth in intergenerational collaboration is valuable for providing unique and innovative organizational solutions. Fostering intergenerational collaboration within organizations can lead to capacity building and increase the efficacy of their sustainability solutions. However, many organizations and programs overlook potential contributions that youth could provide in enhancing the overall impact on communities and the organizations themselves. Furthermore, there is little understanding on how to improve intergenerational collaboration in organizations that host youth service programs. The purpose of this study is to explore youth (15 - 30 years) participation within social and environmental service projects in Canada. More specifically, this thesis will answer the following questions: (1) how does youth service program design affect youth engagement in youth service programs, in the context of intergenerational collaboration; (2) what are impacts of youth engagement in youth service programs on secondary organizations and communities; (3) What factors improve the impact of youth engagement in youth service programs on communities? To explore these questions, a survey was created to evaluate established youth service programs. Organizations who host youth service programs and who participated in this study include Ocean Wise, Canadian Wildlife Federation and YMCA of Greater Toronto. Of the youth service program design strategies selected, youth who created meaningful projects, engaged in autonomy and youth empowerment significantly impacted the level of youth engagement. Other design strategies such as skill building, critical thinking, and mentorship did not show to have a significant relationship with youth engagement. Empirical evidence also suggests that youth participants may not be properly engaged within the youth service programs and thus won’t benefit from youth engagement and intergenerational collaboration. Finally, overall youth engagement did not have a significant impact on organizations and communities. Empirical evidence also suggested that youth service programs inherently have a positive impact on communities and organizations regardless of how engaged youth participants were. This thesis made contributions to the intergenerational theory, where further strategies were explored to support relationships. Additionally, it made contributions to the theory of knowledge sharing, where organizations play an important role in supporting youth and properly engaging in meaningful projects. Further research is needed in understanding how the relationship between youth participants and adults further influence the impact of youth service programs on communities and organizations.
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Aleksandra Spasevski (2021). Impact of Youth Service Program Design on Youth Engagement, Communities and Organizations. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/17331