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Showing posts from December, 2022

Relationships matter

By Karen Beranek As youth development professionals, building relationships with youth, their families and our co-workers is such an obvious part of our work, we may not put much thought into it. We know asking youth about their day or something big happening in their lives is a great conversation starter or check-in question. We have all likely heard the quote, "No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care",   most often attributed to President Theodore Roosevelt. As a 4-H Youth Development professional, the 4-H Thriving Model was the focus of my most recent blog post . At the very foundation of this model is research led by the Search Institute , grounded in the concept that relationships matter. The Five Elements of Developmental Relationships show us how we can focus our conversations while building relationships with young people.  Express care -  Show me that I matter to you. Challenge growth -  Push me to keep getting better. Provide support -  He

Making accommodations in youth development programs

By Darcy Cole Youth development professionals need to ensure accessibility to youth of all abilities. Many times, our programs have a disproportional under-representation of participants with disabilities. According to the National Center for Education Statistics , in 2020 - 2021, the number of students ages 3 - 21 who received special education services was about 15 percent of all public school students. Here in Minnesota, that number is 16.9% of students . Given these statistics, one would assume that our youth development programs would have a similar percentage of participants with disabilities, but this is generally not true. One possible reason could be that families may not feel that our programs can make the necessary accommodations needed for participation.  The Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Act requires that people with disabilities be provided “reasonable” accommodations and prohibits discrimination based on a disability. Accommodations minimize the barriers to individua

Theatre as a tool for internal growth

By Sarah Odendahl Stop by the 4-H building at the Minnesota State Fair, and there’s a good chance you can catch part of a theatrical performance. Arts-In and Share the Fun performances take place throughout the state fair and showcase 4-H members participating in the performing arts project . As adults on the outside, it's easy to observe the skills that youth gain while participating in a theatrical performance: teamwork, confidence, and public speaking or technical knowledge. What’s harder to see are the internal changes and connections that performing arts can have on youth, whether they are performing or observing. Recent qualitative research out of Canada concludes that even watching live performances can have an impact on identity formation in teens. After watching a live play as part of a school trip “several students commented on how the artistic portrayal of a parental relationship inspired them to think more empathetically about their own families.” Youth were able to ta