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Learning Activity

Climbing the Ladder of Participation

Learning Activity Illustration
Group Size
Age group
16 - 18 years
19 - 25 years
26-35 years
36-50 years
51-80 years
Over 80
Time Required
90 minutes

This exercise provide space for critically explore on what degree we are fully participating or allowed to full participation in activitiesThe objectives are to introduce the concept of the ladder of participation and to assess the degree of young people’s participation.

Instructions for Educator
Step by Step Instruction

Start brainstorming on examples and practices of participation participants know (cultural, social, environmental, political, economic,...). You can write down these examples in a flip-chart. Then continue introducing the concept of degrees/levels of youth participation and the model of Ladder of Participation. Facilitators will find a theoretical introduction in the appendices.

The exercise may incorporate a physical placement of participants along with the working space, by locating the different steps of the ladder in the floor. In this case, you can print the descriptions of each “rug” on a different piece of paper and locate them in order in the floor along the working space.

Step by Step Instruction

Propose participants to analyse some real cases where they (or colleagues) have participated. From these real cases reflect on what stage of the ladder of participation they were. Facilitators may distribute the handout to each participant and allocate a time for reflection and clarifications.

Step by Step Instruction

Locate papers with the titles of the ladder on the floor.

Ask the participants to think and to stand by the relevant level of the ladder that represents best the degree of participation in their community. Let them explain the situation and why they have chosen that position.

Facilitation Tips

For the debriefing avoid over-simplification and try to ensure a critical analysis of the reality. If the group is reluctant you may try to bring external examples and do the exercise with those examples.

Potential questions could include:

How do you feel about the sharing results? Is the situation satisfactory?
Is there space for improving the level of participation?
Can the Ladder of Participation model support an improvement of participation at community level? How?

Ideas for follow-up

Critically explore what are the levels of participation in the community for different groups (young people, women, minorities,...) Are there instruments in place to improve the situation?

Collect ideas that could contribute to improve the levels of participation and how sense of initiative and taking responsibility may be promoted within the community.