Developing a participatory framework within youth services

Play Your Part is a new, exciting one-year pilot project led by PlayBoard NI and funded by the Education Authority (EA), aimed at supporting youth groups to embed a culture of effective participation and practice with children aged four to eight years.

The pilot commenced in April 2021, running to March 2022 and will be overseen by an independent expert group, including academics.


The project will establish a framework and set of participatory tools to support youth workers to create an environment that ensures the views, opinions and the voices of children aged four to eight years are heard within youth settings. The framework will be piloted initially in 10 youth settings with a view to further roll-out across the sector.


The project will be delivered in two stages:

Stage 1:
PlayBoard will undertake a review of international participatory practice, identifying existing good practice, toolkits and methods that support capturing the voices of four to eight-year olds.

Alongside the international review, PlayBoard will undertake a survey of youth groups in Northern Ireland to identify existing participatory practice for the younger age group, assessing prevalence of use. This will establish a baseline for participatory practice whilst identifying existing good practice and approaches.

Stage 2:
Based on Stage 1, PlayBoard will establish an effective participatory framework alongside a play-based participation toolkit aimed at enhancing engagement with
the four to eight years age group within youth settings.

Upon completion, the framework will be piloted across 10 youth groups with further information resources developed to support dissemination of the framework to the wider youth sector.

The need

The project has been developed based on a comprehensive assessment of need identified through Priorities for Youth, the EA Regional Assessment of Need and within EA Local Assessments of Need.


For further information contact Cira Palli-Aspero – T: 028 9080 3380 or E:

As part of the initial developmental stage of our pilot we are rolling out a survey to help identify existing participatory practice for the younger age group (four to eight years) within youth settings. Survey findings will help us to establish a baseline for current participatory practices whilst also identifying existing good practice and approaches. Read more and go to survey.