We talk a lot about how we want everyone to feel welcome when they come into a space, in a 4-H club, group, project or event. Sometimes, people call that being inclusive – and that is a main ingredient of belonging. What does it really mean to be inclusive, in a Youth-Adult Partnership?
Let’s look at something that may happen in one of our 4-H clubs: Our Town 4-H Club has a committee that plans the annual recognition program for their club members and leaders. The committee is in charge of all things recognition – picking the date, ordering awards and prizes, and deciding on food and snacks for the event. The committee meets over lunch on Wednesdays.
Is this example an environment where youth and adults are included? Not really, as the meetings are held at a time when young people could be present and have a voice.
Here is one more example: The Our Town 4-H Club has a committee that has decided to communicate as a group with a texting app on their phones. The committee is made up of a few people who don’t have cell phones.
Is this example of an environment where everyone, youth and adults, feel included? Not really, as some people don’t have access to the communication app.
This month, as we think about youth-adult partnerships from the lens of belonging and inclusivity, we encourage you to discuss with your club what you are currently doing to create an inclusive environment. Think about the club as a whole, and also any committees, events, activities, and projects. Are you inclusive and welcoming to youth and adults? How well do you encourage and support participation? Brainstorm with your club members things you could do to make everyone feel more welcome, and make a list of things you want to try in the upcoming meetings. We become more welcoming and inclusive when we recognize where we currently are, and move our own needle to becoming more inclusive.
Want to talk over ideas? Reach out to your local educator!