Conditions for success: Ethical considerations and tips for collaboration

Welcome! If you have made it here, you are most likely planning on investigating and using the SeeYouth toolkit openly accessible at As the toolkit is designed to inspire and support the construction of art and design workshops involving youth in marginalised situations, this section provides some important points to consider when making your program and building your project. Below, you will find key ethical considerations as well as tips to support collaboration and trust building with stakeholders and participants involved in your project. The following points were gathered by collaborators of the SeeYouth project who are also the creators of the activity sheets you will have access to.


Take the time to build trusting relationships

  • Building trust in collaborative projects is not a unidirectional process, it is both co-constructed and dynamic.
  • Relational development can take a while, thus including time to build relationships with stakeholders before and/ or during the project will highly influence a project’s success and impact. Including informal gatherings into your program can support creating opportunities for exchange. There is no limit on what type of activities can be planned: collective ‘making’, art-based or creative activities, music, food, or dialogues in safe and inspiring environments. Exploring non-conventional and fun activities that are based on the project’s context is to be prioritised; sometimes ‘doing’ is a shared language that can work better than words.
  • Being aware of the social and historical context of the groups engaging in the collaboration and possible underlying broader trust issues at play is also important.
  • As there can be challenges involved in navigating both interpersonal and professional relationships, this should be kept in mind during the whole collaboration. Setting boundaries can help.
  • It is important to be prepared to encounter obstacles. Involving local actors who already have trustful relationships with the youth or local organisations is crucial and can support this preparation. Building a strong relational base can help co-developing common goals for the project and make sure the community’s/ youth’s voice is heard.


Ensure reciprocity is a key guiding principle

  • Reciprocity should be a central value in projects of this nature. To do so, non-hierarchical approaches should be prioritized, all the while recognizing the responsibilities of the facilitators in creating a safe environment for horizontal exchanges to occur.
  • Collaborators should view the project as a mutual learning process. Coordinators, facilitators, and/ or researchers alongside participants are all equally learners.
  • If workshop activities take inspiration from existing material, issues surrounding cultural appropriation and intellectual property should be addressed. It is important to inspire the youth to know where their sources of inspiration come from, to foster exchanges and reciprocity.
  • Images, transcripts, videos or creations of the participating youth should remain their property and copies should be provided to them.
  • The fact that some might be paid to participate, for instance through their work, but others use their ‘free time» needs to be kept in mind. Moreover, forms of knowledge and competences acquired outside of academia should be recognised, valued and paid accordingly.
  • If a project is initiated by “outsiders” the goals should be clear and make sure that the community and participants also get something out of it. What is in it for the youth? Plan clear and motivating perks for the youth participating (ex. New acquired skills, fun experience, a certification, etc.).


Embrace adaptability as a factor of success

  • Being flexible and adaptable is an essential quality to support a successful workshop. This means you should be open to going outside of your comfort zone. Choosing approaches and methods that are suited for the context is key, for instance the local culture or participants’ skill sets and abilities. De-centering and redesigning predominant western tools and approaches based on the local context should be prioritized when pertinent.
  • If things aren’t working, or even things feel chaotic, there is nothing wrong with change and improvisation. Letting participants take the lead in these unplanned activities is also highly recommended. This can lead to unexpected outcomes.
  • How do we act emotionally when participants are faced with challenging situations? Taking ‘human’ decisions when participants are faced with tragedies. This can mean modifying or even cancelling the planned program if needed. It is also vital to recognise our own limitations within a team, particularly regarding dealing with the emotional lives and stories of participants. This might mean making sure you have professionals that are trained to support a participant in need, or know the local resources available.
  • Collaboration can sometimes be a challenge. Being resilient and facing up to the ‘tough stuff’. Showing up after things have “gone bad” with constant communication. Collaboration involves compromise and negotiation, thus, acknowledging that people will be involved because they want different things. Commitment is key
  • Facilitators and coordinators should follow and adapt to the youth’s rhythm. This means that plans can, and probably will, change and evolve; improvisation is welcome.


Make transparency a priority in all phases of the project

  • Transparency is a key component for the success of a project and should be a priority in all of its phases. This can be supported by constant communication between actors and stakeholders involved.
  • Transparency and good communication between participating organisations (e.g. a youth house, a community-based organisation, a school) to structure a workshop can help avoid unforeseen conflicts.
  • Regarding the organisation of the project/ partnership, being transparent about the money, how it is used and managed or the limits brought on by funding agencies and how these are navigated should be clear. The same goes for the expectations of each stakeholder involved. This can help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts.
  • Transparency and communication should also contribute to strengthen trust between partners and develop a common vision for the project and determine the respective roles of each collaborator. This can strengthen general participation and recruitment, as well as the continuity of the project.
  • Documenting the process through media, such as photos, videos and audio recordings, should be done with the consent of the participants. Sharing such material, particularly if it depicts youth, should be done carefully and mindfully. Additionally, coordinators should be open to re-design the process of consent if needed. These negotiations can be viewed as an iterative process that opens opportunities for reflection and dialogue.
  • If research is involved, research goals and expectations should be clearly communicated and in a way that is understandable by the participants (e.g. collection and usage of data, where and how this data will be shared and - if collected - how the participants image or images of their work will be used).


Nurture the agency of the youth as full participants

  • Making a workshop ‘fun’ and engaging right from the start is important for setting the tone for what will follow. Have tangible ‘results’ very early in the workshop, allowing the youth to get inspired and motivated and push them to experiment further and see potential outcomes of the activities. Allow the youth to experiment with the mediums themselves by trusting their capacity and skills. This can help increase motivation and participation.
  • Workshop facilitators should perceive themselves as ‘tools’ that support the whole process. The youth are those who should take the leadership on what they are creating.
  • Methods and activities should be selected in order to bring forward the perspectives, ideas and actions of the youth. At times, propose activities that are somewhat challenging for the youth, that they are not sure they will be able to do but that you are quite confident can (or that they will have fun trying). By doing so, you can accompany them in the realisation that they have abilities or interests they did not suspect.
  • The youth are the agents of their own participation. This means they might not want to take the leadership. Sometimes being quiet can be an active choice.
  • Project leaders can be open to having youth as facilitators and a switching of roles. This can be of particular interest for long-term collaborations where some particular individuals are identified as potential leaders for future activities.
  • In order to support the youth’s engagement in the project, creating a safe space (physical and psychological) between the facilitators and participants is key. Identify what type of environment you seek to create (e.g. motivating, creative, peaceful) and what emotions you are aiming to strengthen (e.g. joy, surprise, anticipation).
  • The location of the workshop is important and should be chosen carefully. Creating a safe and enjoyable space for the youth will support a positive workshop atmosphere.