• Published Date: 26/05/2022
  • by: UNDP

Youth Meaningful Participation: 8 rungs to the meaningful engagement

Have you ever experienced full and effective youth participation? ūüϨūüí≠ūüĎ≠
It is clear that these days, youth is becoming an important stakeholder and everyone seems to be eager in bringing youth to the table or organizing fun activities to promote many issues towards our sustainable future.
However, how many of us actually understand the level of youth participation that is needed.
Today, we have a solution to share. After learning about these 8 rungs of ‚ÄėLadder for Young People‚Äôs Participation‚Äô by Roger A. Hart published in Children‚Äôs Participation: From tokenism to Citizenship, please let us know which rung have you experienced or would like to experience more?

Starting with the lowest level of youth participation.

Rung 1 – Manipulation: projects or activities that are entirely designed and run by adults. It is conveyed and pretended that the causes presented in the event are inspired by young people, while, in fact, children and youth are barely getting any meaningful roles for that event, for example, children or youth‚Äôs performances that are purely guided by adults, young people holding political signs without understanding the context and their action, and the news titled ‚ÄėYouth action for climate change‚Äô while there is no details on how youth involve in that event or mostly mentioned as run by adult ‚Äėofficials‚Äô.

Rung 2 – Decoration: refers to the occasions when young people are used to help or promote the cause without them understanding about it. The difference from the first rung is that adults do not pretend that the causes are inspired by young people, for example, young people are invited to the event for refreshments, wear a t-shirt and take a photo without them knowing what is the context of the issues they participate in.

Rung 3 РTokenism: young people appear to be given a voice, with little or no options for participating in the subjects. They barely have the opportunity to formulate their own opinions. The voice or inputs proposed are not seriously taken forward into the decision-making process or no feedback to the proposal at all, for example, an event invite young influencer to join the workshop with the other youths and discuss about the cause but there is no explanation of background on the topic or clear representation of each participants, the next day, the news posted the event with the focus only on the influencer and no mention about other young people’s involvement and inputs related to the youth voice given to the process.

Rung 4 – Assigned but informed: this is the level that young people are assigned to a specific role and being informed about details on intention of projects, who made the decisions related to their involvement and why, being put in meaningful role rather than decorative ones either as functional or symbolic purpose, and volunteer to the project after the details are well-informed to them, for example, young people are assigned to their works as supporting information for the discussion process or advocating for emerging topics to gain attention and convince stakeholders on issues that most impacted to them which might lead to the adoption of certain issues or practices.Rung 5 – Consulted and informed: happens when young people are consulted and provide advice to the adult which they know that the inputs are taken seriously through the adult-led process and outcomes are made by the adults, for example, youth are invited to participate in a consultation workshop where youth inputs are taken into account for the formulation of a transportation roadmap for the city. Youth also get informed about the background and have enough time to prepare their inputs to propose at the meeting. However, the final call of the roadmap and its operation will be made by adults after.

Rung 6 РAdult-initiated, shared decisions with young people: of course, not all types of community development projects can be initiated by people from all ages. However, it is crucial to ensure participatory processes are implemented with involvement of various groups in particular of young, elderly and vulnerable groups. This rung occurs when the projects are initiated by adults but young people take part and share their decision together with adults, for example, a company is having a budget to organize community activities with youth in the local area. Youth are invited to take part in the planning and implementation of the workshops. Youth get to make decisions on communication materials and workshop facilitation together with adults resulting in collaborative outputs and outcomes for the projects.Rung 7 РYoung people-initiated and directed: this happens when young people initiate their own projects by having adults play supportive roles to those youth-led projects. It was also found that usually adults are bad at responding to young people’s initiatives as it is hard for them not to jump in, suggesting safe solutions, stopping inappropriate actions in their view or, sometimes, even take charge which if improperly executed, might become an obstacle for young people to learn, feel empowered, and show their potentials and creative skills, for example, a youth club decided to organize a camp with their peers at the university about LGBTI+. Young people have taken a lead on formulating ideas, proposals and implementation, adults are being supportive by providing resources either as financial or resource persons and logistics to make their ideas/projects come true.

Rung 8 – Young people-initiated, shared decisions with adults: is the top level of participation as young people are able to use their aspiration and creativity to initiate projects that most respond to their purposes and needs by still including adults in the shared decision-making process. This way of participation does not only allow youth to fully exercise their ability, but learn and develop themselves from working with experienced adults on relevant skills and topics, for example, a group of young people created a project helping the youth community who struggled from the impact of COVID19. The youth group has created the proposal and taken the lead of the project while still inviting adults to be part of the team and share decisions on implementation together. In the meantime, youth get to learn how to best operationalized the project and resources. The youth team also learnt management skills and getting more networks from working with the adults which will benefit them in the long-run after this project.

From all of the participation levels presented, it is not necessary that young people always must apply the highest possible rungs of the ladder. Different children and youth have different times, responsibilities, preferences and constraints that allow them to be involved at a certain degree of participation. The important principle is that programmes should be designed which maximize the opportunity for any young people to choose to participate at the highest level of their ability at that moment.

UNDP Thailand understands the importance of youth participation and has been working with youth on various topics covering civic engagement, economic empowerment, and change agent for SDGs. Check out more details about the UNDP Youth Strategy at https://bit.ly/3BZyx7S

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  • Published Date: 02/12/2020
  • by: UNDP

Learning journey of Youth Co:Lab 2020

Experienced by youth, Initiated by youth, and the solutions by youth is the idea of the Youth Co:Lab, the always sphere for youth to create social innovation.

‚ÄčThe severe global issues, the pandemic of the COVID-19, have made it easy for the organizer to select the theme that fits the society’s current challenges. The theme, the COVID-19 Recovery, has been initiated regarding the questionnaire responded by the youths across Thailand concerning their challenges during the pandemic of the COVID-19. Relatively, the sub-themes on social issues cover educational problems, economic challenges, mental illness, and gendered domestic violence.

‚ÄčThe whole process of Youth Co:Lab consumed several months, the situation of the pandemic of the COVID-19 has been changed. During the preparation stage of the program, the pandemic of the COVID-19 was severe in Thailand. In contrast, the situation has become better on the workshop day. However, the seemingly better circumstances on the pandemic of the COVID- 19 in Thailand do not affect the program’s selected theme as there are collective issues youths have faced regardless the COVID-19 situation. However, the pandemic of the COVID-19 and the new normal did accelerate and insist on the crucial demands to tackle these social issues.

The insights on the social issues during the development process of their project has become crucial to improve and advance their project. Most significantly, the program also aims to bring together all those new generations that share similar interests on social challenges as done by all previous programs. Therefore, this article is to conclude the lesson learned that made this year’s Youth Co:Lab program successful.


Online Classroom

Learning from the experiences of organizing the previous years’ Youth Co:Lab, the staff acknowledges that the three-day program was tense and intensive for the participant to learn, develop and pitch the project under the time limitation. Thus, it was hard to expect for an obvious learning curve. The organizers, therefore, have frequently been discussing and considering organizing the program online in order to lengthen the learning period. Responsively, this year is the first year that the Youth Co:Lab has been organized online.

The increasing use of online channels for learning and meeting purposes has become normalized during the pandemic of the COVID-19. Therefore, there are possibilities to change from organizing the physical workshop to the online one. This online workshop allows us to provide more inclusive information and learning materials to the participants. The program consists of a four-day online workshop and the physical workshop of two and a half-day. As a result, the participants have an opportunity to pitch their projects that they have been developing for the entire period of almost two months.

‚ÄčThe result of the online workshop is worthwhile, while there are some disadvantages. On one hand, the online channel offers more intensive content of the workshop. On the contrary, the organizers are aware that participants might feel more comfortable and safer to interact and exchange in person than online. However, it is found that hosting the workshop online and extending the workshop time allows the participants to feel safe to engage with each other. The continuity of the workshop eventually enhances the participants to interact, discuss, and share. The friendships, the shared interests, and commitment to transform to a better society even more greatly contribute to the relation of the participants overcoming the disadvantages of the online.

However, the online channel could not be in replacement for the in-person workshop. The organizers, therefore, decided to hold a physical workshop at the end of the programme to create a sphere for participants to exchange their interests and information, to draw out the lesson learned from the workshop and present their project that is developed according to what they have discussed and learned from the both online and offline workshop.

One more advantage of hosting the workshop online is that all the information and resources have been collected online, reducing the unnecessary repetitions of data collection. The online workshop, in addition, portrays more concrete improvement and commitment of all participants.



All support is Ready

Before the workshop starts, the organizing team has contacted the experts on several social issues to share their insights, their expertise, and to reflect on the projects, so the participants can advance their projects to be more efficient. Sanon Wangsrangboon, Co-founder of¬† Locall, has provided the suggestion on the employment creation in the restaurant industry during the pandemic of the COVID ‚Äď 19. Dr. Rangsan Wiboonuppatum, an education officer from UNICEF, also provided consultations on educational innovation in the workshop.

‚ÄčThis year is the first year that the workshop has been supported by the Youth Co:Lab alumni to be the mentors or supporters for each group. The mentors are responsible for answering any possible questions that the participants might have, providing suggestions, and strengthening the group project.

One of the mentors who was a participant from last year Youth Co:Lab revealed that while helping and providing suggestions to improve the project, it is an opportunity to learn the more updated innovation, which is more intensive and different from last year.


What’s inside the online workshop?

‚ÄčThank you to HandUp Network and ChangeFusion to help us facilitate in the processes of the four-week online workshop. In the first week, along with the ice-breaking activities to enhance the engagement and learning environment, participants have a chance to meet and introduce themselves. The first classroom’s main objective is to provide an understanding of the problems that their solutions are to be solved.

‚ÄčThe tool, problem tree, used to create an understanding of the problems does not provide only the current situations that the team is interested in but also the understanding of the root of the problems and a well-rounded understanding of their impacts.

After seeing through the problems, each group of participants was assigned to do the stakeholder mappings and figure out what each stakeholder does. This step helps the participants to appropriately situate themselves in the problem nexus and focus on the main problem.

‚ÄčThe session ends with solidating the problem statement to clearly define the territory of the project that each group is coping with.

‚ÄčThe first-day online class is very intensive and strict with a short break. The reflection on the program has been used to improve the next class to be more flexible.¬†¬†

‚ÄčThe second online workshop is about ideation. Because all the team has already prepared their ideas since their application, the session focuses more on revising their ideas, finding pros and cons, and identifying the significance of their innovation.

‚ÄčTo make the participant not too exhausted with their project, the Ice Breaking activities have focused more on the interaction and share information of the participants on general topics so that they can be away from the central theme of their work for a short while.

‚ÄčThe third online class is about learning business plan through the Business Model Canvas. The content is sophisticated and complicated, so the session’s central idea is to remind the participants not to forget the business side of the innovation, which will ensure the creation of the innovation and sustain the innovation.

‚ÄčWhen each team has a clear picture of the problem, finds some ideas to solve the problem, and recognizes the importance of the business part, the last online class discusses the social impacts under the Theory of Change.

Once each team can identify their expected social impact, each team is asked to make a reverse plan from one-year estimated outcomes to six months and provide more details on milestone activities and action plans that will bring success to the project.

‚ÄčThe online workshop does only aim for providing inputs to develop an innovative project for each team, but to build the social transformer network of the youth. During the workshop, the political movement in Thailand is very intense. Therefore, the organizing team provides the space for discussing the current situation under the safe and respectful environment to express opinions. The organizing team believes that creating social innovation while ignoring the current social issues may be unavailing.


Our First Meet

One of the purposes of the Youth Co:Lab is to create a network between participants, supporters, and all stakeholders.

‚ÄčEven though the learning session about the tool used in developing innovation has been completed online, the meeting and exchange in person have been performed. This is the purpose of the organizers to bring all participants to meet in person.

‚ÄčAlmost all the participants agreed that meeting all the workshop participants in person is the most impressive part. Participants meet with diverse groups of people such as Pkakenyaw from Mae Hong Sorn province, Muslim youth from the three-southeast provinces of Thailand, and youth from the central part of Thailand. All the participants have different skills and interests so that they can share their views and experiences. This helps to broaden their viewpoints and to learn about different cultural contexts and backgrounds.


Ideas Become True

‚ÄčDuring the meeting between the participants, the organizer team has invited the Social Entrepreneurs who have succeeded in business and created the social impact to share their experiences to inspire and become the participant’s motivation to continue their project. Some of the social entrepreneurs are the alumni of the Youth Co:Lab, such as Thanakorn Promyot, the co-founder of Yonghappy (Youth Co:Lab alumni 2017), and Sarocha Tiansri, co-founder of Pa’ Learn (Youth Co:Lab alumni 2019).¬†¬†

‚ÄčBefore the last day of the program, each team reviewed the status of their projects and learned about the SDGs where each team got to apply the concept of inclusive society to their projects as well as considering the economic, social, and environmental impacts. Even though the SDGs are not obligated in this presentation, it increases each team’s awareness to review their project, whether it leads to sustainable and inclusive transformation.

‚ÄčOne of the participants mentioned that the session on SDGs is one of the most impressive sessions because it helps to broaden the direction of the project and find the possibility of the project to be more inclusive.


Project Presentation

The end of the first phase is when the participants pitched their project to the committee and other participants. The presentation provided crucial information to help the audiences understand and find social innovation, which has been eagerly developed during the program with the challenges on time limitation, beneficial.

Before presenting the project, issues that should be included, and examples of the effective presentation methods and strategies have been suggested. The suggestions will be only the guides that the participants can adopt, apply and design if they fit with their innovations. The presentation is not only for the contest, but the organizers hope that it will be an excellent opportunity for the participants to narrate the problems that they or their relatives or friends experience in their everyday lives. The organizers also hope that the participants can summarize the ideas and knowledge from the workshop and share it with other participants.  

All ten team have developed their projects, and they have their work plan ready to be implemented and eventually, achieve their goals. Even though only five out of ten teams will receive the funds to trial their project for three months, it does not mean that all the team will gain nothing from their work developed along with the program. They are able to further their projects in several ways, such as making a prototype from their idea, finding a new partner in the program to proceed with their projects, or making a proposal to the other activities or other opening opportunities.


This project could not be successful without the collaboration from the enthusiastic youth who apply for this program. We are thankful for our partners, Citi Foundation, UNICEF,Thailand Institute of Justice, True Incube, and the National Innovation Agency (NIA) for their collaboration on organizing the program, providing multidiscipline knowledge to the participants. We are very grateful to the facilitators from the Hand Up Network and the Changefusion for their hard work on instructing and supporting all ten teams throughout the program.

What are the stories behind the five selected team, who will benefit from their innovation, and how will the innovation solve these particular social problems? It will be narrated in the next articles. Please stay tuned!


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  • Published Date: 22/07/2020
  • by: UNDP

How Covid-19 affects Youth?


Covid-19, in some ways, is affecting everyone including children and youth.

The Children and youth’s  worriness have stemmed from different issues, from physical health, mental health, education challenges to economy regression.

UNICEF together with The Children and Youth Council of Thailand, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and United Nations Population Fund(UNFPA) surveyed 6,771 individuals from all 77 provinces from 28th March Р10th April ,which aimed  to understand how Covid-19 has affected this specific group of people and what are their concerns and needs.

This article will brief the survey findings and highlight some of their thoughts on the impact of pandemic that cause to their personal life.



8 out of 10 youths answered that they were worried about the economic status of their family members, since most of them still rely on their parents. This means that they are affected as well.

The financial stability also had something to do with education as they have to pay for university admission fees and tuition fees. Some youths opined that education should be cheaper, if not free, adding that the government should subsidize or provide more scholarships to the students.

From the economic aspect, some youths work part-time while studying to support themselves financially. Some of them worked in informal sectors. The government schemes to alleviate the affected employees; namely through social security schemes and through 5,000 THB handout package, seem to not cover this group of people. It is also found that 23 percent of respondents who work full-time and part-time indicated that they were unemployed due to the pandemic.

For those who just graduated, over 30% were seeking for jobs. The fact that many businesses have been shut down during the lockdown makes them worry about their own future.


Mental Health

What’s inevitable when it comes to Covid-19 is a worry. There were many issues bothering young people. 7 out of 10 revealed that life during lockdown has caused them stress, boredom, lack of motivation, and distress.

Some youth’s concerns were directly related to the pandemic. They were fearful whether they or their families would be infected as well as whether they would be able to access PPE due to the supply shortage and high prices.

Media and the government management also mattered. Some youths mentioned that they hoped the government revealed the information and data more transparently. Some explained that they were concerned about the uncertainty of government policies in dealing with the Covid-19 situation.

Regarding the media, the influx of information which sometimes hard to distinguish between truth and fake news cause them anxiety.

In a personal level, keeping oneself in a house due to the lockdown and not seeing anyone except family members while their activities were limited by space made them feel uncomfortable and distressful about staying at home.

The answers from the survey also showed that LGBTQI youths were worried about their gender identity. Four percent said they feel uncomfortable and pressured about staying at home as they are unable to express themselves in front of their family members. Additionally, some who have continuously taken hormones faced difficulties in getting the supplies.



For youth, education is considered as one of the biggest matters. As the schools continued postponing new semester dates, the students were worried about their educational plan, especially those who are about to change their educational institutions or those who plan to continue their education at a higher level such as from high schools to universities.

When it comes to online classrooms, though most agreed that classes shall be carried on even under the new form, some youths questioned about accessibility, efficiency, and readiness of the new normal.

Domestic Violence

The saying ‚ÄėHome is where the heart is‚Äô may be true to some people but definitely not to all. Some find it hard to confront the situation occurring in the house as lockdown somehow forced them to stay together.

7 percent of the respondents addressed that they were concerned about domestic violence as there were conflicts among the parents.


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