Tips from an Icebreaker Queen

By Brenda Barrios, Community Coalition Program Specialist

Hello! My name is Brenda Barrios and I have worked with youth as a mentor, tutor, advisor, and camp counselor for a few years and wanted to share a bit of advice on inclusivity for adults and youth leaders when working with youth groups.

  1. ALWAYS start with an ice breaker. Don’t force people to join if they are uncomfortable, but always ask if they can participate each time. If they choose not to participate, figure out how to include them (for example, give them a task to observe–this will keep them busy and avoid them distracting others). Choose an icebreaker that allows ALL people to participate.
  2. It is easy to have the same participants come and talk to you or to go to the same group of people, but make sure you don’t get stuck too long with the same individuals. You are a leader; therefore, your role is to make everyone feel comfortable (even if you are uncomfortable with the awkwardness). Don’t get too complacent!
  3. Always talk to the shyest person in the room and introduce them to another member.
  4. If you meet monthly or weekly, grab a calendar and ask for their birthday, place it publicly on the events calendar, and celebrate their birthday when it starts to come up!
  5. Youth enjoy and excel when you provide options but also the space to come up with ideas to share. They need to feel ownership to fully invest. If options come only from one person’s point of view, there can be a lack of commitment at times. When working on projects get a feel for everyone’s interests.
  6. Provide something visual! Youth get talked “at” all the time, so even just using parchment paper or a whiteboard to write about the topics/agenda is helpful!
  7. “People heal with positive relationships.” Always come into the group with the intention to connect. Many people are going through something and you including them can make their day, month, or even their year.

Here are some of my favorite Icebreakers! Hope you enjoy the video demonstration!

  1. Spirit Animals
  2. Ninja
Back to all news