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Showing posts from May, 2015

Planting the seeds for higher education

By Nancy Hegland “What do you want to study after high school?” “What career do you want to pursue?” As a junior high student, I clearly remember being asked to write a paper on these questions and researching the details of being a dental hygienist, which seemed very interesting at the time. That idea eventually faded, and in the years that followed, many mentors guided me, even though I wasn’t sure where I was headed and whether I could make it in college.

Ways to make youth programs more inclusive

By Kathryn Sharpe “I have a group of Muslim youth who won trips to the state fair—what kind of religious accommodations will they need?”  This is a question that I asked myself last summer. It’s an example of the kind of question all youth workers must ask themselves if they want to make their programs more welcoming to non-traditional audiences.

Reframing the politics of youth work

By Amber Shanahan A passion for youth work is often what drives us to join this profession. We love young people and feel enriched by the rewards of helping them to become the best person they can be. But our passions can get derailed by politics. It might be a power struggle between passionate volunteers, or the meddling of an influentially connected parent, or the fickleness of a funder attracted to another cause. Politics can kill your passion for youth work, making it feel more exhausting than empowering. How can we turn these situations around to create forward momentum? It can be done. In fact, you can use power struggles to demonstrate effective leadership with youth. High-quality youth development programs have democratic features embedded into their frameworks: active engagement, encouragement, and collaboration, to name a few. We often limit our thinking around program quality to how these attributes will effect youth, but what if we applied it to the political cl

Youth programs: Powerful settings for social-emotional learning

By Kate Walker How exactly does learning unfold in youth programs? They are a particularly rich context for young people to learn and practice social and emotional learning skills. It is critical that we understand how learning happens there, and how we as adults can support that process. Youth in our programs often engage in real-world activities and projects, work in teams, take on meaningful roles, face challenges and experience the accompanying up and downs.