The role of YouthLab facilitator (also called senior trainer by different implementing partners) is essential for a successful program. The role includes the training of youngsters as experience experts (also called Junior member or Junior Trainer) and the facilitation of the youth x justice exchanges.
Both training and facilitating are intense and often emotionally taxing. Facilitators understand the role of constructive conflict and tension and are able to at all times offer a space where all participants feel respected and confident to meaningfully exchange.
Below are some important features of a YouthLab facilitator:
- A connector: The YouthLab facilitator is able to connect and translate between the world (and lived experience) of young people and the systemic world of these justice professionals. The facilitator aims to put emphasis on both the complexity of their profession, but also challenge them to truly listen, to understand the stories and impact of the experiences of the young people with(in) the justice system.
- A creative thinker: Because the training is built on creative methods, the facilitator ideally has past experience in a creative discipline, like spoken word or storytelling. By opening the training with spoken word, the facilitator sets an example in opening up/being vulnerable, and thereby encouraging young people to share their experiences with professionals in the following stages of the training.
- A mentor: For the YouthLab juniors, the facilitator is their coach who guides them through the training. They might have certain agreed rules or signs between each other, if the tension or emotions runs up too high for a youngster. On the other hand, the facilitator navigates on a neutral ground during the session, so both parties get the space and opportunity to voice their opinions. The facilitator always makes sure the youngsters have the final word, to close a topic with youngsters, yet in a positive and constructive manner.
The facilitator should have experience and/or feel confident in:
- providing training for professionals, and for young people;
- understanding of judicial system/world, through perspective of young people and professionals;
- thinking and acting creatively and feeling comfortable to take the stage;
- coaching young people.