Q: How can I encourage diversity in my youth work programs?
A: Diversity is important in youth programs. It gives youth opportunities to appropriately experience, interact and respond to different points of view.
When many of us think of diversity, we think of racial diversity; however there are other forms of diversity that you can encourage in your youth programs:
- Musical Diversity – Offer music that appeals to different subcultures of youth. For example, if you only play rock music, try rap, hiphop, indie, emo, jazz or even classical sometimes. You’ll not only be providing an environment that welcomes youth who enjoy other types of music than ‘the norm’ at your program, but you’ll be exposing your youth to something new they may have never listened to before.
- Financial Diversity – Provide transport for youth in low economic areas to your programming, thereby promoting financial diversity within your youth work program. Or make it a point to invite more affluent youth to your program in a more economically challenged area.
- Cultural and Religious Diversity – Provide cultural or religious activities in your youth work that encourages an exchange of ideas between faiths and/or cultures. Host a debate on youth issues between local faith leaders, a cultural celebration or art show and encourage diversity by inviting youth from all cultures and faiths to participate.
- Age Diversity – Create peer mentoring or relationship opportunities between older and younger youth to encourage age-diverse relationships within your programs.
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