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Showing posts from October, 2016

Transgender youth: Breaking down the challenges

By Judy Myers, Extension Educator — Children, Youth & Family Consortium ,  Extension Center for Family Development This post first appeared in  Family Matters , the newsletter of the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development. Imagine that you are an adolescent who feels unsafe everywhere you turn — at home, at school, and in your community. This is the situation for many transgender youth who are at higher risks for homelessness, abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, and suicide than other gender nonconforming young people. What are the physical and mental health risks that transgender youth confront and how “big” of an issue is this?

Why equity matters in youth development

By Kathryn Sharpe As the demographic makeup of the U.S. undergoes a sea change of diversification, 4-H and other national historical legacy youth development organizations face a critical question: What will it take to stay relevant in the 21st Century? This year, as part of the Northstar Youth Worker Fellowship , I undertook a research project to explore this question. My conclusion? We must work to create equity in our programs. Many legacy organizations were created to reach out to the marginalized young people of a century ago, such as isolated rural children of immigrant families or low-income youth living in urban tenements. Over time, they have come to serve primarily the majority population. This may be because they were founded with the goal of assimilation, welcoming youth of the dominant culture and excluding those who didn't fit the mold. Now, as the youth population diversifies, merely seeking to engage more diverse participants and staff is not enough. We mus

5 ways to measure youth - adult connections

By Betsy Olson Informal social support networks with non-related adults are important resources for young people working through the good times and the difficulties of life. Positive connections to adult volunteers, staff and mentors result in positive outcomes for youth. But how can we measure this? I have suggestions for how to measure strong connections between youth and the caring adults in their lives, based on the benefits of  positive youth-adult connections: 1. They include informal interactions Similar to our expectations for friends we expect adults that care about youth to be interested in them beyond the formal connection they have through the youth program. So for example if a girl is connected to an adult because that adult is her soccer coach, that coach must be interested in the details of her life beyond soccer. The coach must be interested in the girl on a personal level, her life, family, or school work. Checking in on a young person’s day engaging in inf

Reflecting on my failure

By Mark Haugen We've got a plan. It's a good plan. A tremendous plan! I don't mean to brag, but it is one of the finest. The need for this is clear. It's important for our organization, to me personally, and people say the change is needed. Their insights make the plan even better!  So why isn't my plan working out? Is it my fault? Am I failing as a leader because I'm afraid? Nope. That can’t be it. I'm not afraid to make a mistake or do things differently. The plan is based on great ideas, worked out with the group. Our conversations have shaped the idea into something beautiful. I’m not afraid of the challenge, yet it feels like I’m failing. Why isn't my plan working? I’m frustrated, so I reflect on the core of leading change: The Problem: Can I name the change? Do other people see and agree that it is a problem? The Vision: Do we have a shared vision of how it could be addressed? Is it realistic? Shared Hope: Do people share a sense of hope