Hart’s Ladder of Participation is a model that can be used when developing and working on youth participation projects. It aims to enable young people to take an active part in decision making, and give them the opportunity to have a ‘voice’ in society.
Hart states there are 8 steps on the ‘Ladder of Participation” The first three steps, manipulation, decoration and tokenism, are considered not be engaging young people in active youth participation, but instead provide a pathway to move up onto the other stages of youth participation.
The following five steps after this look at how to fully integrate young people into the decision making process and how to get them actively involved.
These steps evolve in that the next step the adult organise an event for young people to volunteer in (young people assigned but not informed).
Following this the young people’s opinions will have some influence on decisions made and they will receive feedback on these opinions (Young people are consulted and informed).
Next step involves adults coming up with the initial idea, and young people taking the necessary steps to implement it with their own ideas and organisation (Adult-initiated, shared power with young people).
The penultimate step look at young people having full power and creative license over their ideas and projects (Young people lead and initiated action).
The final step looks at the amalgamation of some of the final few steps, in that the young people initiate the idea and invite adults to join in, thus leading to an equal partnership. (Young people and adult share decision making).