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Showing posts from December, 2014

Why do adult volunteers need cultural competency?

By Molly Frendo

"Our community isn't really that diverse. When there are so many important skills for me to learn, why should I focus on diversity?" I've often heard this question as I've worked with adult volunteers in youth development roles.

So often, diversity is reduced to what we can see: race, gender, age, and perhaps ability. But culture is so much more than what we can see -- it includes the experiences, beliefs, and values that give us membership to a certain group.

Individuals belong to multiple identity categories. For instance, I am a White, heterosexual female member of the Millennial generation. I am highly educated, a transplant to Minnesota, and a middle-class single adult. All of these things together (and beyond!) make me who I am. Only a few of these identity categories are apparent by looking at me.

When we look beyond what we can see, so much more diversity in our communities becomes apparent -- family status, religious beliefs, socioeconomi…

Working as a team can be the biggest challenge of all

By Hui-Hui Wang

What did young people on the Engineering Design Challenge teams this past year learn from the experience? Notably, one main takeaway for youth was that building a team can be as challenging as building a Rube Goldberg design.

At the end of the first season of our engineering design challenge recently, we asked each member of the 22 teams about the experience. What did they learn? What obstacles did they overcome as they built their Rube Goldberg Machine together?


Here are some quotes from the youth participants in this year's challenge:
"Some challenges we faced as a team was at first we all came with our one idea, and a lot of us weren't willing to compromise ... but we did overcame that challenge by learning to compromise, and everybody had a voice in this machine, so it was lot of fun." "I was also like that there were ideas, like you would think in a totally different way for some of them. But then, their idea would work much better in that …

Youth voice requires online access, literacy

By Trudy Dunham

2014 marks both the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the creation of the World Wide Web. It wouldn't have occurred to me to connect these two transformational events, but it occurred to Urs Gasser, and I'm glad it did. He reminds us that that the world wide web is a major tool for young people to access and exercise their rights. And that youth voice, their participation in discussions on the key issues of today, is vital.

Gasser acknowledges that even after 25 years, disparities remain in the well-being of children and youth: their ability to exercise their rights, and in their online access and network literacy. These disparities place our children at risk, as well as the health and well-being of our society overall.

When we consider Internet risks, we usually think of cyberbullies, breaches of privacy, and sexual predators. Last month I read a report on the prevalence, research findings and future research need…

Cross-age teaching has social and emotional benefits

By Amber Shanahan

Teens and younger youth both benefit from cross-age teaching. In fact, it may be the most effective way to provide opportunities for positive youth development and encourage youth to avoid delinquent behaviors. Younger children respond enthusiastically to teen behavior modeling, so rapport is established very quickly.

Our center runs the 4-H Youth Teaching Youth program (4-H YTY) in four Minnesota counties. The model includes strong partnerships between county-based 4-H programs and local schools. During the 2013-2014 school year, our staff trained 761 teen teachers, and they in turn taught the 4-H YTY curricula to nearly 10,000 elementary-aged youth in greater Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area school districts, making it one of the largest 4-H projects in Minnesota.

We knew that cross-age teaching benefited youth social and emotional learning, but we didn't know exactly how. To find out, we interviewed elementary school educators who had recently observed a cross…