Category Archives: Youth Advisory Board

7 Ways to Effectively Engage Youth Voice in Programming

Youth Voice is an essential piece of any organization that works with youth, either directly or indirectly.

In order to effectively engage Youth Voice in programming, take the following into consideration:

  1. Honor, ask for and engage youth wisdom.
  2. Provide ample opportunities for young people and adults to share control and decision making on multiple levels.
  3. Understand that Youth Voice is a way of operating, an organizational culture and philosophy that goes beyond one “leadership program offering.”
  4. Go beyond “just listening” and build real action around Youth Voice.
  5. Identify opportunities for voice and choice within each daily activity, across sessions, throughout programs and organization-wide.
  6. Create space, commit resources, provide support and promote opportunities for Youth Voice.
  7. Understand the positive outcomes of partnership for young people, adults, organizations and communities.

Squaready20140811141906The GUIDE, Inc. Youth Advisory Board (YAB) utilizes Youth Voice in multiple ways. Before the official start of the school year in August, a group of YAB members attended Georgia Teen Institute (GTI), planned a community project related to prevention and utilized the Strategic Prevention Framework. During this time, YAB members shared their knowledge of issues in the community, and their project was based on this wisdom and expertise. While they were given community statistics and an action plan as resources, the development of the project was directly related to the needs they wanted to see addressed in the community.

In the upcoming school year, YAB will work toward capacity building, utilizing resources available and implementing this plan in Gwinnett County. They will also have the opportunity to work with GUIDE staff to provide feedback regarding the organization’s strategic planning goals as well as other organizational projects. This feedback ensures that youth in our community are heard and have the chance to share their opinion with stakeholders and decision makers.

IMG_4858Youth Voice is also a key piece of YAB and GUIDE’s Board of Directors meetings. Executive members work with GUIDE staff to develop agendas and activities and even lead their YAB meetings, too. In the upcoming year, YAB will also attend GUIDE Board of Directors meetings where they will create and report out information related to the work they’re accomplishing in and around the community. By including youth in these key pieces, they have a direct say in what they want and need to accomplish, as well as the information they wish to share with the organization’s Board of Directors.

During YAB meetings, one way we encourage youth to think a little deeper and share those thoughts with us is by utilizing a tool called WIBYT: Write It Before You Talk. When brainstorming or thinking deeply about a topic or pondering a specific question, allow participants a set time limit to write down anything related to the topic or question you presented.  The only rules are that the person must write for the entire time, and they cannot verbalize their thoughts with those around them until instructed to do so. After the time limit is up, have participants share the ideas they jotted down. This activity allows time for everyone to identify their own thoughts or answers before sharing out with the large group. This will effectively engage more youth, and the group participation will increase, too. For more tools and tricks on how to engage youth, check out speaker, educator and author Michael Brandwein.

Squaready20140811142355It’s important to incorporate Youth Voice in several areas throughout the organization and to make sure it isn’t one small happening, but is interwoven throughout the organizational structure. Realize that this is a partnership and show them respect. Listen to their ideas. Be intentional about involving them in multiple aspects of your organization. Above all, remember that Youth Voice takes time; it doesn’t happen overnight.

We are excited to work with each YAB member this year, to hear their voice, and to make a positive difference in our community as a result!

For more information and resources related to Youth Voice, check out University of Minnesota’s Quality Matters Toolkit: Voice and Engagement.


GUIDE 2013-2014 Youth Advisory Board: Where They’re Headed

IMG_4921GUIDE is proud to recognize ten seniors from our Youth Advisory Board (YAB) and their accomplishments. The YAB is comprised of youth from across Gwinnett County that commit to making a difference in their community. YAB members develop and practice key leadership skills such as public speaking, group management, networking, decision-making, planning, organization, and time management. Each of our YAB members has shown dedication to not only GUIDE, but also to their schools and communities. Because of their impressive leadership skills, every YAB member was involved in a variety of extracurricular activities such as Student Government Association, National Honor Society, Gwinnett Student Leadership Team, etc. Several YAB members also held part time jobs at businesses such as restaurants and insurance companies.

Each senior had an impressive resume, and universities across the country reached out to them. Throughout the fall and spring, they were busy applying for numerous scholarships and universities. GUIDE is honored to announce that all ten of our seniors were accepted to the university or college of their choice and several were selected for outstanding scholarships!

IMG_4862We are extremely proud of two YAB members for receiving the prestigious honor of being selected as 2014 Gates Millennium Scholars. The Gates Millennium Scholars Program selects 1,000 talented students each year to receive a good-through-graduation scholarship to use at any college or university of their choice. This scholarship will provide a full scholarship to the recipient for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Josselyn Garcia, YAB President, and Micheline Amisi, YAB Vice-President, were both selected as Gates Scholars. Josselyn, a future Eagle, will be attending Emory University in Atlanta this fall. A soon-to-be Tar Heel, Micheline will be attending The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Moving to Rhode Island, Odemi Pessu will be attending Brown University, becoming a Brown Bear, with a full academic scholarship. Akua Obeng-Akrofi, YAB Secretary, received a track scholarship and will be moving to New York City and attending Columbia University as a Lion. Maya Carter will become a Pirate and attend Hampton University in Virginia on an academic scholarship.

Several YAB members decided to stay in Georgia to continue their education. A future Bulldog, Joy Choi will be attending the University of Georgia in Athens. Rachel Topper will be attending Georgia College in Milledgeville where she will become a Bobcat. Marilyn Carias, Angela Luu and Vincent Morales are all soon to be Panthers at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

IMG_4422GUIDE appreciates the participation and service from each senior throughout their time on YAB. Each individual helped make a difference to youth and adults in Gwinnett County. Every YAB member has grown in their leadership potential through their YAB experience, and now they are equipped to share those skills at universities across the country. As the new school year quickly approaches, we wish all of these new college freshmen good luck and look forward to hearing about their college successes and how they go on to change the world.

Recapping the Successes of the 2013-2014 YAB

YAB Walk Like MADDThe GUIDE Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is comprised of youth from across Gwinnett County that commit to making a difference in their community. YAB members, through monthly meetings and community events, develop and practice key leadership skills such as public speaking, group management, networking, decision-making, organization and time management. The 2013-2014 YAB includes Josselyn Garcia- President, Micheline Amisi- Vice President, Akua Obeng-Akrofi- Secretary, Angela Luu, Charlene Marsh, Christine Edih, Courtney Serra, Gaby Guzman-Simon, Joy Choi, Marilyn Carias, Maya Carter, Nathan Carter, Odemi Pessu, Rachel Topper and Vincent Morales. This group of 15 high school students has had a busy year.

YAB GTIDuring June 2013, Maya, Charlene, Angela and Marilyn worked with their facilitator, Josselyn, and Adult Advisor, Mary Kate at Georgia Teen Institute (GTI). While at GTI, the team completed the Strategic Prevention Framework to identify a need to be address in the community and then planned a project to meet that need. The team identified a need for more fun activities for youth to do on weekends that were drug- and alcohol-free. Because of this need, the team began planning an event to be held during the school year to address the lack of activities.  

The YAB met for the first time on August 15th to kick off the year. They elected two representatives, Josselyn Garcia and Marilyn Carias, to serve on the GUIDE Board of Directors. Both representatives attended all Board of Directors during the year and gave valuable input from a youth leader perspective.

photo 3 (1)The team who attended GTI shared the plan they had created with the other YAB members, and everyone started to generate a plan for the upcoming year. Over the next several months, YAB members prepared for the event they called “Fresh Start Town Hall Meeting.”  They planned a workshop, contacted sponsors, prepared materials, assisted with recruiting participants and more. The event was held in January at the J.M. Tull Family YMCA, and it was a huge success. Event participants greatly enjoyed the keynote speaker, Wes Bender, workshops facilitated by YAB members and a Gwinnett County Police Officer, Zumba and other YMCA activities and a skit that was put on by YAB members about starting the new year with a fresh start. Overall, the event was an accomplishment for each YAB member because of the hard work they put into planning it.

Another major accomplishment was the success of the YAB Red Ribbon Week (RRW) Campaign in October. All members helped create Boo Bags with prevention messages to distribute to their classmates. They also participated in GUIDE’s social media #BeRed campaign. Members from Norcross High School (NHS) developed a lesson plan about underage drinking for the Freshman Advisement Class. They also had a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) representative make presentations in health classes. The SADD group they helped start at NHS sponsored student pledges not to drink alcohol under 21 on a large banner. Members from Archer and Grayson High Schools also conducted RRW activities, reaching 1340 and 3230 students respectively. GUIDE was awarded the Overall Statewide RRW Award, and the GUIDE YAB was a major part of that happening.

YAB LeadershipDuring each monthly YAB meeting, members also completed various activities for the Alcohol Prevention Project. Using the Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol (CMCA) strategy intent, the YAB worked diligently to reduce underage drinking in Gwinnett. YAB members participated in several activities, including the Sticker Shock campaign, an Environmental Scan, Most of Us Social Norms activities and many more. They also provided feedback on prevention messages and how well they would relate to youth. Also during the monthly meetings, YAB members completed a marijuana prevention activity. These included completing an Environmental Scan, brainstorming prevention messages and educating members and their peers on HB 885 – the recent marijuana bill that was presented to Georgia legislation.

YAB Be RedOutside of the monthly meetings, YAB members were also hard at work in the community. They participated in various events such as the Walk Like MADD event, the Public Safety Fall Festival and the Gwinnett Great Days of Service. At each event they distributed Save Brains packets and collected adult signatures to not provided alcohol to those under 21. Josselyn was featured on People Helping People TV show for Alcohol Awareness Month. Each YAB member was required to complete 20 hours of community service, and they all did so through various events throughout the year.

Overall, it has been incredible year for our Youth Advisory Board, and we appreciate all their hard work and dedication to making a positive difference in our community. 

Calling All Youth Leaders in Gwinnett! Apply to be on the GUIDE YAB!

GUIDE is excited to announce an opportunity for rising 9th – 12th graders in Gwinnett County to apply for the 2014 – 2015 Youth Advisory Board (YAB). GUIDE will select youth based on an application process.

IMG_3690The YAB is comprised of youth from across Gwinnett County. Ideal candidates are youth committed to making an impact in the community. Previous leadership experience is preferred, but all youth are welcome to apply. Applicants must have reliable transportation to and from all meetings and events and be able to communicate with GUIDE program staff via email and social media on a weekly basis.

Upon acceptance to YAB, members will be called upon to advise GUIDE staff on various aspects of youth leadership and prevention programming. Throughout the school year, YAB members will take part in monthly meetings and help plan, implement and evaluate events designed to reduce alcohol, tobacco and other drug use.

Two 2014-2015 YAB members will serve as Youth Board Members for the GUIDE Board of Directors. Additionally, YAB members will have leadership opportunities available to them such as staffing community wide events and Georgia Teen Institute.

IMG_3457YAB members will develop and practice key leadership skills such as public speaking, group management, networking, decision-making, planning, organization and time management. Former YAB members have gone on to serve in prestigious leadership positions in other organizations and on their college campuses, received full scholarships to colleges of their choice and lead their fellow youth in community organizing activities.

Download your application here.

Applications are due via email by 5 pm on Friday, May 2, 2014.

For more information, contact Sarah Stokes, Youth Advisory Board Coordinator, at 678.377.4136 or at

GUIDE YAB Gets a Fresh Start in 2014

GUIDE, Inc. Youth Advisory Board (YAB), made up of 15 high school students in Gwinnett County, seeks to create positive community change. Five of our YAB members attended a leadership program this past summer, Georgia Teen Institute. While they were at camp, the group utilized the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) to create an Action Plan in order to facilitate said change. Their Action Plan included a town hall meeting for youth dedicated to providing an alcohol-, tobacco- and other drug-free activity, illustrating that students can have a lot of fun living a substance-free life.

1544430_728298090513527_1309635970_nWhen the YAB held their first meeting of the year in August 2013, members reviewed the Action Plan and the SPF process began. Because of the great detailed work that took place at Georgia Teen Institute, the YAB jumped right back into the planning process. Members worked hard to plan the event by seeking community sponsors, recruiting for high school student leaders to attend and addressing event logistics. YAB chose the title, “Fresh Start Town Hall Meeting” to demonstrate the ability teens have to start over with new perspectives and behaviors. The Fresh Start Town Hall Meeting took place on Saturday, January 11, 2014 from 6:30 – 11:30 pm.

YAB members were very appreciative of the support of J.M. Tull-Gwinnett Family YMCA. YAB partnered with the YMCA, who provided the space for the Fresh Start Town Hall Meeting. The facility was the perfect location for the event! The YMCA also provided the keynote speaker, Wes Bender. He was a huge hit with all of the participants and shared many “tools for their toolboxes” and lots of laughter!

1536510_728297917180211_773898651_nThe workshops at Fresh Start were both informational and engaging. Officer Rooks from the Gwinnett County Police Department facilitated a workshop on how important decision making is in a young person’s life. He also provided a great deal of laughter, along with lots of important information on the dangers of underage drinking and drug use. Two YAB members, Maya and Charlene, facilitated a team building workshop. They did a fantastic job leading the group in leadership activities while focusing on the Fresh Start theme. They shared significant knowledge with the participants, encouraging them that a new year is a great time to turn over a new leaf. During free time, participants enjoyed using the YMCA facilities including racquetball, Zumba and the Teen Center.

1526757_728297837180219_157327317_nThe event wrapped up with a skit written and performed by YAB members. During the skit, YAB provided reasons why youth should make positive choices and how they can share this information with their peers in a fun, easy to understand way. Much like Georgia Teen Institute, YAB members provided door prizes and energizers, too!

The Fresh Start Town Hall Meeting was an excellent way for YAB members to learn more about the SPF and utilize its steps to effectively plan a program. To wrap up the SPF process, YAB members collected evaluations and analyzed results. They also met to discuss the event and have already started to plan for next year!

Youth Spotlight: Josselyn Garcia

Josselyn Garcia joined the Youth Advisory Board (YAB) at GUIDE, Inc. in 2010. YAB provides students the opportunity to create positive community change through various projects dedicated to the prevention of underage drinking and substance abuse. Josselyn was voted as the 2013-2014 YAB President based on her previous years of commitment to not only the organization, but to living a drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle.  She has also previously served as the Secretary and as a committee chair. 

Josselyn demonstrates very strong leadership skills. As the President of YAB, she presides over all meetings, acts as the lead on all community events, serves on GUIDE’s Board of Directors and does all of the above with a positive attitude and dedication unlike many students her age.

A senior at Norcross High School, Josselyn was instrumental in starting a Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) club this year with the help of her teachers and peers. Because of Josselyn’s dedication, Norcross had a successful Red Ribbon Week in October with activities that included signing a drug free pledge, guest speakers, and programming for their freshman leadership program.

In addition to her role as YAB President, Josselyn continues to be involved in a number of other activities. She was recently nominated and accepted as a member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s (MADD) National Teen Influencer Group, out of only nine spots awarded nationally. In addition, CNN en Español and HLN’s Raising America spotlighted Josselyn and her positive influence in and around her community. She also participates as a youth staff in our organization’s annual summer program, Georgia Teen Institute

Josselyn accomplishes all of the above while continuing to stay grounded in what she finds most important, her family and friends. It is evident by her relationship with the people around her that Josselyn is dedicated and loyal. Her loyalty extends to all that she comes across: GUIDE YAB, SADD club, her school’s honors program, MADD National Teen Influencer Group and her family and friends.

Josselyn displays leadership and vision on a daily basis, which continues to make an incredible difference in the lives of those around her. GUIDE is so proud of the impact Josselyn has had on her community. We are looking forward to continue to watch her grow as a leader in college and for years to come.  Thank you, Josselyn, for being such a bright and dedicated visionary!