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Teen Voices Summits

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Teen Voices Summits

King County Library System, Wash.

Democracy | 2018

Innovation Synopsis

Working in partnership with teen services librarians, youth serving on existing teen library advisory boards across King County Library System identified topics of interest to teens, then planned and presented a series of four regional day-long summits for middle and high school students to explore these topics.


Twenty-first century skills are vital to success in academic, civic and work spheres. Teen Voices Summits gave youth the opportunity to manage a large-scale program from its inception, including soliciting ideas, negotiating which topics to explore, choosing activities, identifying presenters, managing a budget and filling leadership roles in the planning and implementation phases. This project allowed teens to develop transferrable 21st century skills such as collaboration, creativity, civic literacy and oral and written communication skills.

Key Elements of Innovation

Key elements of the innovation included the use of participatory design techniques to elicit youth voice. Using a framework of Connected Learning, librarians were able to mentor youth as they worked collaboratively with their peers on a project based on shared interests.

Achieved Outcomes

Teen Voices Summits fulfilled an unmet need within King County Library System by providing a meaningful volunteer experience for teens, that of designing a program for their peers. It raised the profile of teen advisory boards within their communities, allowing these groups to recruit more members and take on more projects. Youth gained confidence and experience in event planning, resulting in translatable skills they will use in academic, work and civic life going forward.