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Get Children and Youth Involved

Steps to facilitate the involvement of children and youth in your Crime Prevention Month event

Projects for children ages six to 12 should be appropriate for their abilities and levels of development. Beautifying parks, creating posters that celebrate diversity, and performing skits on drug abuse are some ways children can help their communities. Teens have greater skills and knowledge and are able to tackle many critical issues facing American society today, including drunk driving, violent crime, shoplifting, child abuse, rape, and substance abuse. Tutoring children at a local elementary school, participating in graffiti paint-outs, and escorting seniors on errands are ways teens can help their communities.

Whether you are working with young children or teenagers, the following steps will help you organize an age-appropriate project.

Step One: Identify the Need

Projects should respond to a need in the community that the children and youth feel is important. Brainstorm ideas and find out what they are interested in. Help them research the issue. Younger children may need short-term projects, where they see results quickly. Longer-term projects are more appropriate for older children and teens.

Step Two: Plan the Project

Guide younger children carefully through the planning stage, but allow teens more independence. Assign tasks as appropriate. The planning process involves assessing resources, deciding when and where the project will be carried out (and how long it will take), building partnerships, raising funds, and promoting the project.

Step Three: Carry Out the Project

When the time arrives, be sure all supplies are ready. Have adults present to give directions and answer questions as needed. Make sure all participants understand their roles and responsibilities.

Step Four: Reflect on and Evaluate the Project

Children and youth will gain more from their work if they take time to reflect on and evaluate the project. What did they learn from the project? Did they discover or develop any personal skills? What were the reactions of the people their project served? What worked well? What would they do differently next time?

Step Five: Celebrate!

After the work is complete, celebrate! You may decide to have a party, present participants with certificates recognizing their achievement, and display “before and after” pictures. Be sure to thank all partners and adult volunteers by including them in the celebration.

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