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Showing posts from June, 2023

Youth as authors of their lives

By Jessica Pierson Russo Youth, no matter what age, can achieve great things. But do they believe it? Many youth, especially adolescents, can feel as though they’re at the mercy of the world around them. But if they can feel a sense of self-agency, they can begin to see themselves as the authors of their lives and find a kind of personal leadership that brings self-confidence, hope, and expectation for their futures.  I define self-agency as a sense of yourself as the agent, or leader of your life—your ability to use your resources, to be effective, influence your own life, drive change, and take responsibility for your behavior. It is important to note that youth will express self-agency differently, depending on their cultural background and personal experiences. For instance, the value of independence so strongly valued in the United States may not be so strongly emphasized in other places. However, self-agency is important because it helps youth feel distinct from others. Years of

Navigating challenging behaviors through positive behavior intervention strategies

By Darcy Cole All youth workers will encounter challenging behavior at some time. This may occur more often when working with youth with disabilities. When challenging behaviors happen, it’s important to think about the purpose of the behavior as we navigate which strategies will be most effective in redirecting the behavior to what we’d prefer to see. Youth workers may assume that when others act differently than they would in a situation that it’s because of "bad" behavior. However, this isn’t necessarily accurate. Behaviors, both positive and negative, are used as a means of communication. If we can remember this when encountering challenging behaviors, we will be better equipped to handle them and be able to create an environment in which negative behaviors don’t need to be a way to communicate. It’s important to understand that all behavior happens for a reason, even if we’re not entirely sure what that reason is. For some individuals with disabilities, behavior may be t

Step into outdoor meetings

By Nicole Kudrle Summer has arrived here in northern Minnesota and I find myself spending a lot of time outside. I have three children ages five and under, so spending as much time as we can outside is important. The entire family seems much happier, sleeps better, and challenging behaviors seem to disappear with all of this time outside. Recognizing the benefits of being outside got me thinking about my work with youth and wondering how we can encourage youth to be outside more. My colleague Nicole Pokorney’s recent blog series focused on outdoor learning experiences that are safe and supportive , intentionally designed and build SEL skills . But getting outside can be helpful even if it’s not the primary focus of your program. I looked further into the benefits of spending time outside and learned that after just 20 minutes outside  you begin to see health benefits. Three benefits of spending time outside include 1) improved mental health, 2) lower stress, and 3) improved mood. So