The CodeBridge Youth Participation Guide aims to get young people more involved in by encouraging digital participation in events and communications
Even though the rules around lockdown eased on 1 May 2020, it is likely that things won’t go back to ‘normal’ for the foreseeable future. One of the biggest adjustments made by a large portion of the population has been learning how to work with other people from a distance. For some, this means attending meetings over the phone and for others, this means embracing the offerings of the digital world.
The CodeBridge Youth Participation Guide is just one area of our work that is adapting to suit the needs of long-distance engagement and productivity. The Guide aims to address the lack of youth-led participation across the country.
Getting young people to participate and be more engaged can often be quite challenging. Often, though, one of the biggest issues is that they simply aren’t aware of opportunities to take part — especially when it comes to being active members of a community.
In short, the Youth Participation Guide aims to promote better access to service delivery and channels of communication between a municipality’s youth and government officials. In order to strengthen the relationship between a citizen — in this case, the younger population — and their municipality, we have developed a series of successful case studies, designed a model for optimal citizen engagement and created a step-by-step guide of how to make this happen. Of course, we recognize that every community is different and has varied needs, so our efforts are merely a suggestion.
The idea behind creating a guide is more relevant than ever, with the entire nation on lockdown, especially in places where people have tested positive for COVID-19. In many places, service delivery has come to a standstill and community leaders may have their hands full with trying to alleviate some of the stress caused by the pandemic. Getting the youth to buy in and take ownership is crucial to the success of this, and as with all of the work we do, a digital solution will further assist communities in navigating very new territories.
Users will be able to find a website with all of the available resources consolidated and explained in detail. The participation guide will consist of a map of the entire process, and the relevant tools and templates that could assist a citizen in moving through that process. Each step will be broken down into a single chapter, containing vital information, tools and templates that one could follow to facilitate an increase in engagement.
WHAT DOES SUCCESS LOOK LIKE?
Each municipality and its process will differ, but it’s important to be able to determine when a process has proven to work for a community and its people. With this in mind, we’ve created three criteria that municipalities can use to judge how well the process has worked for them:
- Citizens must be able to meaningfully participate at the right times and in the right format, as required by a municipality. This can be done by asking every individual who participated if their engagement took place at the right time and in the correct format, as well as whether their engagement was accepted by the municipality.
- Municipalities are encouraged to develop and host civic information guides. If they are able to partner with other municipalities who are taking part in the programme, then this is even better.
- Citizens must be able to access the guide and the information contained within it.
WHY THE YOUTH SHOULD GET ON BOARD
Lockdown and the likelihood of social distancing that will follow has made things like planning community meetings difficult to do. This could easily compromise service delivery and a community’s needs, which is where the guide comes in handy. Not only does it empower the youth to lead the rest of their community, but it also makes necessary change and progress possible, when the rest of the country is focused on a global pandemic.