It’s a principle of the World Scout Youth Programme Policy, and a key part of the Scouts Australia Youth Program Policy, but what does young people at the centre actually mean?
Young people at the centre is exactly that – ensuring young people are the focus of everything we do. It’s epitomised in the Scouts Australia Youth Program Policy, which compliments the World Scout Youth Programme Policy. So how can we ensure that our everyday Scouting places the needs of our members first?
Personal Progression, as one of eight elements of the Scout Method, is the way in which we support our youth members to meet the Purpose of Scouting. This is about considering and facilitating the needs of the individual at every step throughout their journey in Scouting. This means as Leaders of Youth and Adults, consideration should be made on the impact and flow on effects our decisions have on Youth Members.
For example, a young person wishes to attend a local Scout Group, however the Group does not have Joey Scouts. The group and youth member therefore work together so that the young person does not get turned away by Scouting. Instead, we provide them with an opportunity to join the Cub Scout Unit six months before the desired start for Cub Scouts. Similarly, an existing Joey Scout will shortly be moving up to Cub Scouts. However, the night in which Cub Scouts for the Group is running conflicts with other extra-curricular activities the young person is involved with. A solution may be that the youth member, with the support of the Unit Councils, can attend a rotating week at Joey Scouts and Cub Scouts to meet the program needs of the individual.
This can also be extended to meet the needs of a Rover Scout who might be very proficient in canyoning. Through the Outdoor Adventure Skills, they’re looking for a new challenge to further their development in this area. In this instance, the Branch can support the Rover Scout to run an upcoming Canyoning workshop which has the Rover Scout extend their skills with adult support to develop their skills.
The New Youth Program has an increased focus on each individual young person. Through the facilitation and development of the SPICES, which are tied to our Educational Objectives, as a Movement we provide opportunities and experiences for all young people to be involved. Having young people at the centre means we need to consider their needs – something we may not always be good at.
Consider a young person who is a wheelchair user, whose Unit is going on a bike hike. In order to meet the needs of this individual, placing them at the centre, we need to consider what equipment might be needed for them to be actively involved in the activity, and what routes work best so that there are enough rest points with easy access if they are unable to complete the full hike. This might sound easy enough, but how often have you stopped to consider this? Perhaps there is a young person whose disabilities are less obvious, but whose needs still need to be considered when determining activities and opportunities. Instead of asking ‘can everyone participate?’, we are better to ask ‘can everyone engage equally in this activity? Is there a way we can allow more people to partcipate?’. Remember, having young people at the centre is not about drawing continuous attention to their needs, but rather engaging them in the planning process so that they can be included.