By: Lily Viggiano, Project Coordinator, HYI
August 9, 2021
On July 15, 2021 - several of the breakout room leaders from the Halton Youth Initiative came together for the first-ever HYI Leader’s Circle. Led by SHSM co-op student and fellow breakout room leader, Amber Siddiqui, the leaders circle was a chance for folks to come together, learn from one another's experience and to begin collaboration on a Best Practices resource.
What is the Best Practices resource? It is a living resource that contains tips, tricks and things to think about when leading youth volunteer teams. From how to use technology to your advantage, to team building, to hosting events for the public - the HYI Leaders are hard at work getting this resource together for the benefit of themselves, future breakout room leaders and for readers outside of the project.
Words from our Leaders
Describe your experience as a Breakout Room leader (what have you done, what have your learned, advice)
Manya Bhandari - Community Connections - My experience as a breakout room leader has been a helpful, fun, and amazing experience. A breakout room leader leads the team on the action items and discussion questions for the week. I was usually a substitute for one of the other breakout room leaders so if she ever needed some help I always offered her. During my times as breakout room leader, I have learned how to take leadership and leading the breakout room has given me more confidence. A piece of advice I would like to offer is not to be fearful. If you are scared that someone will judge you or not like the way you lead, that's not true. In my experience, the whole team has always been so encouraging and kind, especially the adult leads like Lily and Siobhan. I would say that you should give it your best and everyone will appreciate it :)
Gabrielle Dymock - Community Connections - As a break out room leader it has been my privilege to work with an amazing group of youth. Everyone is so willing to share their opinions and ideas it makes the work really easy to get done. I have also noticed that different points of view on the topic that is at hand has made for a better understanding. I have learned about my members, what equity means to those around us and how we can truly make an impact on our community. My advice is don’t be shy, if you think something needs to get done the only way to set that into action is speaking up!
Ashley Stevenson - Team Builders - In my breakout room we are working to create a new youth council for when the Halton Youth Initiative funding runs out. We are going to create a youth council to carry on the legacy. In my breakout room, we have been planning roles, terms of reference, and structure. Leading this room I’ve learned that everyone has great ideas, some just need encouragement to share. When I ask if anyone has ideas, it’s usually quiet. However, if I ask a specific person, they give an amazing idea. My advice for anyone leading a breakout room is asking specific people because everyone’s voice deserves to be heard.
Discuss the importance of youth leadership in community projects
Tina Liu - Communications Crew - Youth from diverse backgrounds provide so much important insight and advice and ensure that community projects are youth-friendly. Youth leaders can be the best way to start round-table discussions with everyone and often speak the “same language” as fellow youth. In my experience, youth volunteers and students are much more receptive and comfortable speaking to these leaders and sharing their ideas.
Youth leaders also have first-hand experience of what youth like and don’t like! With so many trends, youth leaders are a great place to start when brainstorming new ideas and are
experts in social media (i.e. what types of promotion are most effective on Instagram and TikTok, what gets youth interested in clicking on a post, etc.).
What are the benefits of youth-led leadership roles? What is some advice on becoming a good leader?
Afnan Shan - Creative Spaces - Throughout my experience in the HYI I have learnt a lot about the importance & meaning of Youth involvement and leadership and also how to become one. Youth led leadership roles, to put it simply, are extremely important to the community and to youth as they allow youth to contribute to the community in meaningful ways, build connections with others, and to build confidence in one self. This is essential for communities to prosper because youth involvement adds a sort of perspective and energy to the community that allows for it to continue to grow, and youth leadership gives youth the chance to make meaningful change.
So how do you first become a great leader? Be yourself! Now I'm aware that this may seem very obvious, however the simplest and most effective technique I've ever learnt was just being myself and allowing the group to participate and be themselves. One of the most meaningful things I've personally gained from being a youth leader was the connections I built with others and the best way that I've found to do that was to be myself.
Stay tuned for more updates and knowledge sharing from the HYI Leaders Circle over the coming months!