PlayBoard NI’s

Play Your Part

Developing a participatory framework within youth services

Supporting youth groups to embed a culture of effective participation and practice with children aged four to eight years within a youth setting.

  • Developed in line with the existing guidelines of youth work, supported by the Education Authority.

  • Supporting youth workers to enhance their understanding of the needs of the youngest children attending their settings.

  • Available resources include a participation toolkit, facilitators guide, posters, and webinars to explore participation within a youth work setting.


  • Ensuring the views, opinions and the voices of children aged four to eight years are heard within youth settings, resulting in meaningful participation.

  • Enhanced knowledge of embedding young children’s views, opinions and participation in planned, long-term and group activities.

  • Contributing towards the development of a high-quality service for young people within youth settings.

  • Developing children and young people’s capabilities – their interpersonal skills and personal relationships, as well as helping improve their overall health and well-being.


If you are interested in Play Your Part or children’s participation, PlayBoard can offer tailored training, with packages developed to suit your requirements.

Play Your Part webinars can be accessed in our resources section below.

If you would prefer to avail of bespoke training for your setting this can be delivered over three two-hour sessions or delivered face-to-face online.

Effective Participation

Participation is more than just asking children and young people for their ideas and views to learn about what they would like to happen. Participation is an ongoing process of listening, taking children and young people seriously, and turning their ideas and suggestions into reality.

Play, by its very nature, is a participative process: play empowers children and provides social tools to participate in decision-making. Play is how children learn about the world, about themselves and each other, and give meaning to the things that happen in their lives. Play offers children choice, control and freedom.

Children and young people’s lives are playful. The importance of play in involving the four to eight age group in participation processes needs to be recognised. By entering the realities of children through play, we attempt to understand the child’s perspective. This can be done through many means.

Play Your Part was a one-year pilot project which aimed to assist 10 youth groups to embed a culture of effective participation and practice with children aged four to eight. The project goal was to develop a training framework alongside a set of participatory tools aimed at supporting youth workers to create an environment in which the views, opinions and voices of children aged four to eight could be better heard within youth settings.

Evaluation of the pilot has highlighted a clear appetite for Play Your Part training in the youth work sector, and outlines how the project has built on the capacity of youth workers to facilitate playwork in youth settings for four to eight year olds.


“I think it is a really beneficial programme and raises a lot of knowledge for people. Kids need to be involved at this age, and it’s important for people to realise it.”

“I think we never maybe gave young people value for what they could do or what their ideas were, because we never really thought about having consultations with young people that young because we didn’t think they would be capable of understanding what we were talking about … So, for me, your programme has really widened my ambition for the young people … and we are doing far, far more with them now than we ever did.”

“I initially thought it should have catered for an older age group and all these guys are too young for this, but now I’ve realised that it’s the perfect age group … they’re never too young to let them know we respect and value them.”

“We have two new staff members, so it’s been really beneficial for them to go through this material and grab ideas from it. So, I have to say it’s gotten a lot of use so far. It has been beneficial for training new staff in our setting.”

“We are going to incorporate more child-led play and incorporate what we have learned about the dos and don’ts of play and risk.”


PlayBoard has developed a 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 and understood.

The resources explore different participation approaches and participation levels. Practical guidance on how to design and conduct participation processes is described, including a step-by-step guide planning participation, what activities to undertake, what evidence to collect, how to take action to influence change as well as giving appropriate feedback, and involving children in the process of evaluation and reflective practice.

Contact Us

If you would like to embed children’s participation within your setting and explore how to implement effective processes, our Play Delivery Team can help! For further information email