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Showing posts from May, 2024

It’s okay, not to be okay - May is Mental Health Awareness Month

By Amy Sparks        In 2023, Minnesota State Fair 4-H Building visitors        were asked to share the needs in the world they care        most  about and place them on a Universe of Service.        Many fair-goers identified mental health care as        a need.  Photo by Amy Sparks. "How is everyone?" A simple question, yet it holds profound power in igniting discussions about mental well-being. Earlier this year, Elmo from Sesame Street posed this question on social media , triggering an outpouring of responses. From tales of relationship strains to battles with financial difficulties, fatigue, isolation, and disconnection, individuals shared their innermost feelings. Elmo's post garnered millions of views, reposts, likes, and comments, underscoring a reality we cannot overlook: many among us are grappling with challenges. And that's alright. What's crucial is acknowledging this reality and ensuring everyone knows assistance is within reach. May isn't just

To create a volunteer-led youth program, focus on equity

By Jessica Pierson Russo Volunteerism in the United States has been declining for decades, but it dropped even further (7%) between 2019 and 2021. People volunteer for any number of reasons—to give back, to socialize, perhaps to learn a new skill in a fun way. A great way to scare people away from volunteering is to make it complicated or unwelcoming. One way to ensure a barrier-free opportunity to youth programs is to focus on equity, because this makes sure that everyone receives the unique resources and opportunities they need to participate in a meaningful way.  An equitable approach is first a welcoming one. When we’re asking people to volunteer their time to lead a youth program, we can be most welcoming to them by focusing on building the relationship and keeping it simple. By "relationship," I mean both our relationship with the volunteer , and their relationship with the program. We can think of creating a volunteer-led youth program through five steps. Step 1: Gath