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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Context means everything in youth work

By Joshua Kukowski 

I recently attended a 21st Century Community Learning Center summer conference in which the keynote speaker spoke about how context means everything in youth work, and yet we frequently overlook it when working with young people. The speaker's own context was amazing, inspiring, and tough to hear, yet compelling. It affirmed my own conviction that a young person's context is powerful, and that out-of-school-time programs have the power to tilt young people in the right direction.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Considering Historical Trauma When Working with Native American Children and Families

By Mina Blyly-Strauss, Research assistant - Children, Youth & Family Consortium, Extension Center for Family Development

This post first appeared in Family Matters, the newsletter of the Extension Center for Family Development.

Image: Mina Blyly-Strauss
I came to my CYFC graduate assistant position as an educational professional whose early work was with Native American teenagers. This is a demographic group often noted for some of the largest educational and health disparities in the state of Minnesota. More recently, I have focused on early childhood as a critical time to interrupt cycles of recurring disparities and to start healthy developmental trajectories.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Is there a leadership gap?

By Brian McNeill

When I'm out working with community organizations, I hear this complaint from many local leaders: "There are no young people stepping forward to replace me on this committee!" They seem frustrated that they can't leave a community committee because there's no one to replace them. This made me wonder, is there really a leadership gap, and if so, why?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Youth: I think we all need a 'thank-you' speech


Do we pay enough attention to youth voice? During the busy summer months and as we wrap up our program year, youth voice is easy to neglect. I'd like to give voice in this blog to a young person - my daughter, Kati - as she reflects on the completion of high school, her involvement in youth programs, and the role of caring non-parental adults  in her success. She's a recent graduate of Fridley High School and the Minnesota 4-H program. She will soon be attending the University of Missouri and majoring in journalism.

I think we all need a 'Thank You' speech


The end of any major life commitment creates a moment to look back at past months or years and ask, "What have I done that has made me a better person than I was yesterday?  Even more importantly, what influenced how and why I did those things?"

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

GROW your coaching skills

By Nancy Hegland

During this past year, I have watched my three kids being coached by adults in a variety of settings. Whether it was sports, music or showing livestock, these coaches invested their knowledge in my children’s growth and development. This summer, I’m paying more attention to my children’s coaching than most mothers do because I’ve recently taken a course called Coaching for Excellence.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Talking with youth about terrorism

By Sara Langworthy

Newtown. San Bernardino. Charleston. And now Orlando.

In the wake of intense tragedies, these places have stopped being just cities. Their names have become grief-laden synonyms for terror and loss.

So, how should we talk to youth about terrorism and mass shootings?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

What's a refugee? Who are the Karen?

By Jennifer Skuza

"Imagine being forced to flee your country in order to escape to safety. If you were lucky you had time to pack a bag. If not, you simply dropped everything and ran. Life as a refugee can be difficult to imagine. But, for nearly 20 million people around the world, it is a terrifying reality." (United Nations Refugee Agency).

World Refugee Day just happened on June 20, 2016.

I have have had opportunities to work with refugee communities throughout my career. Over the past few years I have been working with Karen communities in Minnesota. Many people aren't familiar with the Karen or how people come to be refugees. Here is some background.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Early sports specialization is incompatible with high-quality youth programming

By Margo Bowerman

I had the good fortune to grow up in an environment with a wide variety of things to do and plenty of free time. I loved competitive team sports, and as a student I played competitively through college and beyond. Today, though, many young people's time is monopolized by sports and for some, even the very young, it's only a single sport - even though the research says that's not good for them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Science is hard work and that makes it fun

By Rebecca Meyer 

Thinking of science as fun may bring youth to an activity, but they'll like it even more when they get to know more about the scientific process, challenges, and even the failures.

Effective science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education demands balancing fun, interest-building activities and attention to the authentic aptitudes and dispositions that prepare youth for professional careers. All too often we emphasize the fun-factor and minimize the notion that "science is hard." My colleague, Margo Bowerman, blogged about this recently: "I’m no good at science!"

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Let's talk about race -- It's important

By Jessica Pierson Russo

We need to talk to young people about race more - not less. A recent study suggests that minority and white children avoid talking about race. They learn this "color blind" approach from adults, and avoiding the issue only widens the divide.

Studies show that talking to young people about race is important to their development. Understanding one's own racial and ethnic identity is important to developing a positive social identity.
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