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Youth Take Over

Empower youth with 2 days of small-scale interventions

Youth take over decorations

In different places in the world, IOM runs Migration Information Centres – called MICs – within existing youth centres. To keep these MICs vibrant, it’s important to have the needs of its young visitors in mind. As an outsider, you’ll have to get familiar with the local context and connect with youth to overcome common obstacles.

A Youth Take Over challenges the conventional community consultation (Q&A) by enabling local youth to organise activities by themselves. It empowers young people, activates their creative potential and establishes a sense of ownership. Furthermore, it helps you to identify the potential and the limitations of your MIC. And it will help you uncover existing youth networks and organisational structures.

IOM successfully tested the Youth Take Over concept in two youth centres in The Gambia. The result was a series of small-scale, bottom-up interventions, all carried out in two days. In this tutorial, we will guide you through the process of facilitating and supporting your own Youth Take Over and show you how to easily adapt this tool to your local context.


1. Check-in

Get an overview of the available spaces, equipment and resources on your location. Ideally, you will present the idea to the MIC staff and visit potential spaces for activities, in- and outdoors. Creating a list of the available resources will help you to evaluate what’s already there and what’s still needed.

Ask yourself:
  1. Which spaces are suited for what kind of activity? (drama, sports, music)
  2. What kind of equipment has the centre already at its disposal? (e.g., musical set, spotlights, training equipment, tables, chairs etc.)
  3. Who will be available to support? (MIC staff, young leaders, volunteers)

2. Spark the Idea

After this first assessment, get in touch with youth. Try different techniques, depending on the context. In The Gambia, word of mouth and direct contact worked best. Invite leaders from local youth groups (sports, drama, music etc.) and frequent the MIC’s current visitors.

Schedule a one-hour meeting at least a couple of days before the event. Remember that it can take a while to get the invitations out. Make sure your meeting is taking place in a shaded and easy to find a place, where many people can gather. When setting a day and time for your meeting, keep in mind local habits and schedules (cf. prayer time, local school hours, market days, other activities at the MIC, … ).

The purpose of your meeting is to discuss the idea of a Youth Take Over and to brainstorm ideas for 2 days of activities. Aim for leaving the meeting with a clear plan and provide some refreshments like tea, water, and snacks. Last but not least, make a budget plan for your expenses and distribute the share to the groups.

Here are some discussion points for your agenda:
  1. Introduce the Youth Take Over approach.
  2. Explain your and other people’s role in the process.
  3. Brainstorm on activities (what, why, how, where, when?)
  4. Invite local artists, musicians, drama players, basketball/volleyball teams etc.
  5. Make a list of materials needed and create a budget plan (see canvas worksheet)
  6. Define tasks, create groups and decide on responsibilities (design, communication, technical support, refreshments etc.)
  7. Decide on an order of activities and a program for each day (see activity schedule worksheet).
  8. Appoint 1 female and 1 male coordinator to oversee the organisation and to check-in with each group.
  9. Elect 2 moderators, which are welcoming the guests and lead the audience through the activities.

While composing the program for the 2 days, account for up to 4 hours of activities per day.

Youth take over roadmap
Insider tip:

Make sure that female participants have an equal say and participation in your activities as male counterparts.
One of the two coordinators should ideally be a girl, but also consider specific activities enabling direct female participation. It’ll make your event more impactful and more fun!

3. Spread the word

Disseminating the event over the radio

With a plan at hand and the youth motivated for action, spread the word about the upcoming Take Over through available communication channels. In The Gambia, youth delivered the message through local radio stations, WhatsApp, word of mouth and at a local football game. One group of participants took the initiative of going to the local radio station and advertise the Youth Take Over in the dominant regional languages.

Advertising Posters for the youth take over event

Create some visual supports, like a simple A4 poster, to get the message across at schools and within communities. Note that colour printing is not always available or can display poor quality. You might want to go for a black and white design.

Important! Visiting the Youth Take Over should be free for all. Include that information, when inviting people. It will resolve misunderstandings and lower the barrier to active participation.

Insider tip:

In The Gambia, IOM put together a design & decoration team, taking care of the overall stage design and distribution of the posters. Get creative people on the job and let them express their vision.

4. Set it up

Hanging out posters and bringing chairs

While the information is spreading, get the spaces ready. Accompany the organisation process, support if needed but don’t intervene too much. Your role is to observe and enable. Check on what’s missing and provide financial support if needed. Overall, we spent 100 USD in total for renting chairs, a musical set, buying refreshments, electricity, print outs and transport. Ask the groups to calculate costs upfront and distribute cash through the coordinators. But keep in mind that getting those receipts can be a challenge.

Insider Tip:

You often will be asked for transportation refund and how much budget you have. Be transparent and coherent and explain what the budget is intended for. Participation should happen out of interest and motivation. Spend the budget only on expenses that are necessary and justified.

5. Rehearse

It is advisable to rehearse the whole show in the order of activities together with the moderators and the different groups before the event. Each participant should be included. Playing the event through and identify gaps will create a feeling of togetherness and responsibility among youth. Furthermore, they will feel more committed and prouder of their achievements. Eventually, the rehearsal will activate the participants and get them ready for their actual take over.


6. Enjoy the show

Youth enjoys the show of Basse got talent

Welcome to the Youth Take Over, leave your IOM vest and batch at home to keep a low profile. Stay in the background without hiding. Take a photographer/videographer along with you for documenting the event. Ask for the consent of people before photographing or filming them. Keep in mind that it’s the youth’s stage, and their expression of creativity should be the focus. You are here only to support.

The female basketball team scores a goal


7. Make it shine again

After the event, organize a cleaning session and leave the space as it was before. Remind the participants to bring back the equipment if you have rented or borrowed it from someone.

8. Download your insights

Keep track of your observations and insights throughout the process. You can do this through a visual diary with a combination of photographs and notes or in your own style. Making your insights accessible through a presentation of lessons learnt will enable IOM and MIC Staff to envision future goals and long-term initiatives.

Congrats! You just enabled a Youth Take Over. This low budget intervention has the power to change the mindset of young people, create agency and a sense of self-confidence.

9. Create momentum

How to keep that energy? One way to create a long-term impact is to involve young creatives and giving youth more decision-making power in developing their own activities. Find systemic ways to enable creative expression e.g., through open calls for proposals, small-grants and other youth-led initiatives.

The Youth Take Over in a nutshell

Suggested time: 2 days (e.g., weekend) / 4 h of activities a day
Materials needed: worksheets from the manual
Participants: IOM facilitator, youth facilitators, 10 young participants (mixed gender), local youth groups
Location: inside youth centres
Estimated costs: 100 USD

Looking for inspiration? Check out our scenarios in:

This article was first written by Simon Meienberg, who also made the pictures and illustrations.

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