Youth Empowerment Program Activities

Michele Meleen
Students talking in meeting

Youth empowerment program activities encourage teenagers to take control of their own lives and create positive changes in their communities. Empowerment activities for high school students include helping teens gain self-confidence and take action through self-expression.

Make an Affirmations Bullet Journal

Similar to a gratitude journal, an affirmations journal is a place where teens write down daily positive mantras. An affirmation is a short, positive statement that could be about an individual, an experience, or life in general. When students write these positive thoughts every day, it gives them the chance to reflect on what's good around them. This empowers teens to see value in everything, including themselves.

What You'll Need

  • Blank journal
  • Pen
  • Optional craft supplies to decorate the journal

Instructions

  1. Number all the pages in the journal starting with the first blank page you'll write on.
  2. Create a simple bullet journal layout inside your blank notebook. Complete bullet journals use a lot of different categorized logs that are indexed like a book to hold information. Choose your own categories to make the journal personal. You can create a simple version with these logs:
    1. Index - The first page or two of the journal where you write each category and what page it starts on.
    2. Social/Emotional Affirmations - Where you'll write positive statements about your social and emotional strengths.
    3. Physical Affirmations - Where you'll write affirmations about your physical appearance and well-being.
    4. Educational Affirmations - Where you'll write positive mantras about your educational goals and achievement.
    5. Favorite Affirmations - Spend some time each week picking out your favorite affirmations and add them to this section.
    6. Famous Affirmations - Add positive and empowering quotes from your favorite celebrities, songs, movies, or memes.
  3. Each day challenge yourself to write at least three affirmations in the journal.
    1. Always start the statement with "I" or "My."
    2. Keep affirmations down to four to ten words.
    3. Write statements in the present tense.
    4. When you're stuck, think of a negative thought you often have and turn that into a positive statement.

Try the Live Within Your Means Challenge

For many teens, empowerment includes financial confidence and skills. While you might not have a large personal budget, this challenge shows you how to make do with what you've got. If you don't have a job or any savings to work with, ask your parents to set a reasonable budget for you for one month. You can also attempt to make it through a month without spending any money by learning about free resources and getting donations from others. Money management games for teens help students see that they are capable of financial responsibility.

What You'll Need

  • Printable budget worksheet
  • Two-pocket folder
  • Pen
  • Money for one month's personal expenses such as clothing, entertainment, phone, gas, and snacks

Instructions

  1. Download a free printable weekly budget organizer. Customize each expense in the editable PDF document. Make sure you include anything you will be expected to pay for on your own.
  2. Print out your completed budget organizer and place it in the left pocket of your folder.
  3. Keep track of all your monthly finances on the budget organizer. Keep all receipts in the right pocket of the folder.
  4. The goal is to live within your means, whatever they might be. At the end of the month evaluate your success and explore why you were or weren't able to meet the goal.

Host a Creative Expressions Showcase

Every teenager is unique and has an original way of saying what's important to them. Capitalize on these differences when you host a gallery-style show like no other. This activity helps teens gain confidence in their own unique style of self-expression and highlights the power of diversity.

What You'll Need

  • One phrase about youth empowerment
  • Variety of supplies
  • Venue for the event

Instructions

  1. Choose one phrase related to youth empowerment or inspirational quote that all participants will use for their self-expression project. Phrase examples include "The most important thing a girl wears is her confidence" or "One voice makes a difference."
  2. Each participating teen chooses any artistic form for their project. Teens could make paintings or sculptures, do original poetry readings, or even perform an inspirational dance.
  3. The only rule for the creative expression project is that is must exemplify the chosen phrase or quote.
  4. Display all the projects and host a showcase where community members can enjoy the artistic expressions.

Make a Famous Teens Comparison Chart

Throughout history and in modern news, there are countless examples of young people putting forth amazing efforts to make real changes in the world. In this simple activity, teens will compare themselves to one of these amazing newsworthy youth. Teens will see how they share some traits and skills with other young people who have made a big impact. They'll also see how they may have additional skills that can lead them to greatness.

What You'll Need

  • Access to nonfiction research materials or the internet
  • One large piece of poster board per teen
  • Poster decorating supplies such as markers and stickers
  • Several hours or days to complete the activity

Instructions

  1. Each student chooses a famous teenager who made headlines for their positive actions.
  2. Teens research their chosen subject then take notes on personality traits and specific skill sets that helped that subject succeed.
  3. Using the poster board and decorating supplies teens create any kind of comparison chart, such as a Venn Diagram or bar graph. The chart should include:
    1. One section on the famous teen's skills and traits
    2. One section on shared traits between the creator and the subject
    3. One section on the creator's traits and skills that aren't shared with the subject
  4. Teens can present their poster to their class, family, or club group. You could also hang them in a shared space as a gallery display.
teen holding up a statistics chart

Famous Teen Examples

Teens have made waves in all subject areas from climate change to racism. Choose a subject you're passionate about or a teen you admire.

  • Malala Yousafzai - Advocate for education
  • Claudette Colvin - Civil rights advocate
  • Jazz Jennings - Transgender youth advocate
  • Xiuhtezcatl Martinez - Climate change advocate
  • Joan of Arc - French national hero
  • Louis Braille - Inventor of the Braille language

Host a Meet the Candidates Event

One of the first steps in youth empowerment involves giving kids the knowledge they need or the resources to gather knowledge. Help kids understand and experience the search for knowledge and power in having knowledge by asking them to host a local "Meet the Candidates" event. Students will gain confidence in approaching officials, encourage community knowledge, and learn about what makes someone a great leader. This is just one of many youth leadership training ideas that empower teens to step up to leadership roles in their own lives.

What You'll Need

  • An upcoming local election like an annual School Board election
  • A venue

Instructions

  1. Teens will look for a free local venue and schedule the event date and time.
  2. Teens will find out who is running in the election and how to contact them.
  3. Students will book the candidates for the event and market it in the community.
  4. Each teen involved in planning the event should attend and be prepared to ask at least one important question.

Be Active in Your Own Empowerment

Youth empowerment has to come from within each teenager, but anyone can encourage self-expression, self-confidence, and participation in varied experiences. Youth empowerment programs help teens get involved in politics, join different types of youth special interest groups, and include trust building activities for teens. Whether you're looking for fun team activities for teens or something more focused such as Christian youth group activities, there are many creative ways to empower youth.

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Youth Empowerment Program Activities