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Youth Centered Approach and Its Application Model N-TELG*

06 June 2022

Studies

RiTo No. 30, 2014

  • Andu Rämmer

    Andu Rämmer

    Narva College of the University of Tartu, Associate Professor of Youth Studies

  • Anne Kivimäe

    Anne Kivimäe

    Narva College, Teacher of Youth Work

  • Maria Žuravljova

    Maria Žuravljova

    Narva College, Junior Lecturer in Youth Work, Programme Director in Youth Work

  • Kaur Kötsi

    Kaur Kötsi

    Narva College, Junior Lecturer in Youth Work

Specialist literature qualifies the forms and quality of activities that are needed and appropriate for young people with terms like youth-friendly, youth-focused, youth-centered, and youth-responsive. Yet the concept of “youth-centeredness” or “youth-centered approach” has not been conceptualised unambiguously in the context of services or activities offered to young people. And although youth-centered approach has not been clearly defined in research literature, young people are treated as fully formed individuals with rights and active agency in shaping their lives.

The youth work research group in the Narva College of the University of Tartu conceptualised the theoretical fundamental principles of youth-centered approach on the basis of research literature and created a model for applying the youth-centered approach (N-TELG).

The youth-centered approach brings together different components: consistent ensuring of the rights of young people, real participation of young people, respect for young people, acknowledging the values, and an empowering environment, as well as the key elements that clarify and specify these. The relevance of this theoretical concept in the Estonian context was confirmed through in-depth interviews with experts in the field of youth work.

The focus group interviews with shapers of youth policy, youth workers, and young people taking part in open youth work showed that the theoretical concept of youth-centered approach plays a key role in open youth work in Estonia. Interviewees from all the groups were able to link the five main components of the youth-centered approach to their own experiences in this field.

N-TELG is not a model that prescribes the end result; instead, it aims to go much further through its focus on achieving and supporting sustainable functioning, which would allow an enhanced practical application of youth-centeredness to services and activities provided to young people. The model outlines what kind of discretionary decisions are made while working with young people, to what extent the components of the youth-centered approach are taken into account while making such decisions, and how to improve the considerations, arguments, and quality behind these assessments that form the foundation for these decisions. The model explains the provision of services and the organisation of activities for young people as a sequence of carefully considered discretionary decisions made by specialists who work with young people. The model outlines the process of analysis behind discretionary decisions, which helps to reduce decision noise and nudges towards more youth-centered choices via the choice architecture. The N-TELG process consists in a collection of sequenced actions, i.e. measures: decision-making audit, assessment of decision noise, analysis of the youth-centered approach, making choices, implementing changes.

When using the model in practice, the specialists, their organisations, or service providers who offer services to young people apply the youth-centered approach.


* Peer-reviewed article.

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