11 Free Ways to Recognize Youth

I’m a huge awards season nerd. Golden Globes, SAG Awards, Oscars . . . these are my Super Bowls. I watch as many of the nominated shows and movies as I can, fill out my ballots, and tune in for the big events. January – February? MY TIME TO SHINE.

I just love recognizing amazing work! And that got me thinking about how this impulse translates to our work. Turns out, we’ve posted about Recognition a LOT here on the ClubX Blog. It is an important part of encouraging youth to make good decisions, put forth effort, and try new things. It is also a key part of helping youth to feel like they belong. In fact, on the Weikart Youth Program Quality Assessment, the staff best practice for recognition of youth is found in the Belonging scale. It says:

Staff provides structured opportunities (e.g. group presentations, sharing times, upcoming recognition celebrations, exhibitions, performances) to publicly acknowledge the achievements, work, or contributions of at least some youth.

It isn’t always easy to think of ways to recognize youth that are creative and meaningful, ESPECIALLY when we don’t have resources to buy fun things. But the good news is that recognition doesn’t have to cost a thing! Here are 11 ways to recognize youth’s achievements that are absolutely free.

  1. When you see a member modeling good behavior, thank them for being on task. Don’t make it a loud, passive-aggressive show, but instead reinforce it just to them.
  2. Choose youth of the month for age groups or program areas. Announce the recipients in front of members, give them a certificate, and be sure to name specific reasons they were chosen. Make a concerted effort to choose different youth every time, and highlight youth who may not be recognized often.
  3. Outside of youth of the month, recognize all members on a rotating basis. Each month, display photos of different members along with comments from their peers and staff on what makes them a great Club member.
  4. Write a thank you note to a young person’s family that highlights the Club member’s accomplishment or good deed.
  5. Use the intercom or PA system to recognize a couple of members each day.
  6. Use art supplies to decorate an elaborate birthday hat or sash that members get to wear all day on their birthdays. Make more than one just in case there are multiple birthdays in the same day.
  7. Recognize youth for achievements in school such as honor roll, perfect attendance, or sports achievement by posting their name on a bulletin board for everyone in the Club to see.
  8. As youth enter the Club, have all the staff stand at the front applauding, cheering, and high-fiving youth.
  9. Write congratulations or thank you cards to youth, whether to recognize a specific accomplishment or to thank them for being a part of your program.
  10. Throw a party! For no particular reason, pull out the loud speakers and some fun activities and have a party in the Club. Be sure to tell members it is just to appreciate them.
  11. Award Club bucks (or whatever system you use) when you catch members in the act of doing something good.

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a post coming soon on low-cost ways to do recognition, for those extra special times when you have a little bit of budget to use.

(And while my heart wants Little Women to win the Oscar for Best Picture this year, my prediction is 1917, though Parasite could sneak out the win.)

What are your favorite free ways to recognize youth? Do you have suggestions for our low-cost list? Let us know by commenting below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or by emailing ClubXBlog@bgca.org.



Free recognition pin

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