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Youth Heroes: Partners for youth with Disabilities

February 27th, 2015

Maureen Finnerty is a community hero. She started volunteering with Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) in Boston, Massachusetts when she was 15 years old. She says, “Too often disabled people receive service, but they are rarely given the opportunity to give back.” Even with her own personal challenges of having cerebral palsy, dyslexia and other nervous system disorders, Maureen found a way to give back to the community when she started working with PYD. She says that her shy nature kept her from speaking up in their circle group for over a year. Now you would never guess she ever struggled with shyness.   She started a Pennies for Hunger program, through which she collected $5000 for her local food bank in the first year. Her philosophy is, “No one is going to miss their pennies”, so she asks stores to put collection boxes at their checkout lines, and she asks friends to donate their spare change.    Maureen doesn’t consider herself a hero. She says, “I’m just doing what I’m doing. It’s just the right thing”.

— Reprinted with permission from our book Ready to Go Service Projects: 140 Ways for Youth Groups to Lend a Hand. Find more ways to help youth engage their skills, talents and passions in serving the community by picking up your own book at your favorite online bookseller OR bring us to your school, church or community organization to lead service-learning workshop!

6 Ways to Remember Names

February 25th, 2015

To build relationships, you have to learn the names of the youth in your program.  Knowing a person’s name is a way of showing honor and respect. When someone tells you her name, repeat it and ask if you are saying it correctly. If you don’t get it right the first time, practice until you can say it correctly. Then focus on remembering that name, so you can call the person by name in the future. Taking time to know names communicates value and appreciation.

Here are some simple strategies for remembering names:

  1. Repeat names as soon as people introduce themselves. If one person says, “My name is Jim,” then respond with, “It’s so nice to meet you, Jim.” Make a point to use his name again in the conversation. Repetition will cement the name in your memory quickly. (Remember what brain science tells us—you have to repeat to remember!)
  2. Keep a list of young people you interact with on a regular basis. We like to keep this list in a calendar or journal. Sometimes we include the phonetic pronunciation of their names (Shanella = shane + ella) or a phrase to remind us who they are (tall red-headed boy who looks like cousin Jake).
  3. Take pictures of young people in your program, and let them autograph their pictures. Seeing images with the names will help you remember.
  4. Link their names with someone else you know or an object that will help you remember the association. Perhaps Angelica reminds you of an angel. Or George makes you remember your grandpa George.
  5. Combine their names with random facts. You could also ask anything like the following: What color can’t you live without? What decade would you want to live in? What kind of car do you want to drive? The more off the wall less frequently asked question the better. The approach keeps youth on their toes, makes them pause, adds in an element of novelty, and helps everyone in the group remember names. Jake Lawrence asks his youth to share their names and what shampoo they use. Random facts create a lighthearted tone and set people at ease. Believe it or not, these crazy facts will also help you remember their names.
  6. Mix movement with the sharing of names. Here’s another brain booster from Jake to help your entire group retain names. The first person says, “I’m Weston, and I like to move.” Weston then does some sort of move or dance. Everyone else says, “Hey, Weston!” and they copy his move. Continue on to the next person.

This is an excerpt from our new book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

About Ragsdale and Saylor’s Work

February 23rd, 2015

Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor are accomplished authors and nationally recognized trainers that draw upon 35+ years of youth development experience to create inspiring, effective workshops and resources for educators. Their specialty is teaching, challenging and motivating others through experiential education, hands-on activities, story-telling and practical strategies educators can use in the classroom. Their practices are grounded in research, and yet transcend research to offer innovative, practical, and easy-to-implement ideas to schools, and youth organizations. Ragsdale and Saylor are committed to advancing the understanding, practice and growth of individuals and organizations regarding positive human development.

 

Unique in Their Approach

Ragsdale and Saylor actively engage participants, model best practices and provide participants with tools they can put to immediate use. Instead of a boring lecture, they create spaces for discovery, growth and change through experiential learning. Instead of providing canned formulas for growth, they empower others to be themselves – to serve and lead from who they are. Instead of asking people to sit mundanely, they invite clients to play, to question, to stretch, and to bring their passions/gifts into the work they do. In lieu of talking about themselves, they ask intentional questions and facilitate thought-provoking activities that lead to self-discovery and cultural change. Ragsdale and Saylor know the research and have years of teaching experience, but their contagious spirit and teaching style is what inspires youth and adults to make change and aspire to greater heights.

 

Meaningful Work. Ragsdale and Saylor empower others to make a difference by giving educators tools to continue to create cultural shifts for years to come. Because their work transcends beyond the surface to the depths of who people are and how they relate, their work is truly life-prompting. They are changing the face of education.

 

Led by the Best. They’ve published 6 educational books and 2 tested curricular resources. With 35+ combined years of experience in educational leadership with groups such as Generation On, YMCA of the USA, Tennessee 4-H, Search Institute, Volunteer Tennessee, Safe & Drug Free Schools and the Points of Light Foundation, Ragsdale and Saylor consistently give clients practical tools that reflect research in youth work and human development.

 

Competitive and Connected. Ragsdale and Saylor’s workshops are affordably priced and competitive with the market. Their products are consistently rated to be of higher value than competitors.

 

Connect with us on linkedin via Susan Ragsdale or Ann Saylor, call at 615.262.9676, e-mail at cad@TheAssetedge.net, tweet @TheAssetEdge, or look us up at www.TheAssetEdge.net

 

Youth Heroes Help with Yardwork

February 20th, 2015

A youth group in Canton, Ohio answered the call to serve by tackling and getting rid of invaders in a nearby neighborhood. Broken into teams of 5-6 people per group, these teams went door to door in a neighborhood offering their services to take on weeds.

 

The leader of each group would say something like this, ‘we’re here to do work around the yard. Free of charge. What can we do for you to be of service? We have no agenda. This, for us, is a project to learn how to demonstrate caring and serve others. We only ask that you let us plant a tree for you wherever you want. You pick the spot and we’ll plant the tree there for you there.’

 

And then the group would proceed to do weeding, cutting grass or what have you. They would plant trees as their calling card and move on to the next house.

 

The leader of the group used this experience to teach his group about leaving a legacy and leaving a place better than you found it. The trees were the legacy they left. They planted them, fertilized and watered them, and they would be able to go back and see how the trees have grown over the years.

 

Sidebar note: Many Beautification commissions will give free trees to service groups that want to plant them for schools and nonprofit agencies. This is also a great way to make sure the trees you are planting will be friendly to the neighboring vegetation

Reprinted with permission from our book Ready to Go Service Projects: 140 Ways for Youth Groups to Lend a Hand. Find more ways to help youth engage their skills, talents and passions in serving the community by picking up your own book at your favorite online bookseller OR bring us to your school, church or community organization to lead service-learning workshop!

One Strategy that Will Completely Change the Way you work with Young People

February 18th, 2015

Wanna change the way you work with young people?  Adopt what our counseling friend Jake calls “unconditional positive regard”, and determine that you will maintain that attitude no matter what.

Unconditional positive regard is a belief that no matter what happens or what is seen, this person (the youth in front of you) is good even if he or she has done terrible things. Even if the good isn’t obvious. Everyone has the capacity to do good. Your job is to believe that and offer encouragement to your group to cultivate it.

This is the attitude you commit to before you meet any child, during your interactions with your youth, and even after those trying moments when they walk away and you want to start grumbling and generalizing about “kids today.” It’s okay to get the frustrations out of your system  but always return to center: to a belief and hope in unconditional positive regard. This attitude will bring hope to your group and strengthen your efforts to see and cultivate the best in others.

How would this change the environment in your home, classroom or program?

This is an excerpt from our new book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

Moving More = Learning Lots

February 16th, 2015

As P.E. gets cut from more and more school days, teachers and afterschool care providers are searching for more ways to encouragement movement with youth.  We love to move and play, so we’ve collected lots of activities to share in this workshop.

Title: Do a Body Good: Moving More = Learning Lots

Description: The latest brain research has a lot to say about the importance of movement. This workshop illustrates how to incorporate movement through relationship building, concept reviews, getting feedback, reflection and energizers/refreshers – all in 5-10 minute blasts. We will give you time to practice creating and leading movement activities.

Audience: youth workers and educators

Time: 1 ½ – 2 hours

Schedule by contacting us at 615-262-9676 or cad@TheAssetEdge.net

 

Contact us if you want to bring this workshop to your organization – 615-262-9676 or cad@TheAssetEdge.net.

 

Youth Heroes Come Together to Rebuild Trails

February 13th, 2015

David Kelly-Hedrick, a youth worker in Seattle, Washington says, “One of my favorite service projects ever was when I was directing the Youth Volunteer Corps program in King County, Washington which has teams of youth doing group service projects all over the county in the summertime.

 

One group was working with physically challenged youth from a place called the Highland Center. Another group was clearing trails on Squak Mountain. Kids from those two groups got an idea and worked out the logistics with staff to coordinate the physically challen

Reprinted with permission from our book Ready to Go Service Projects: 140 Ways for Youth Groups to Lend a Hand. Find more ways to help youth engage their skills, talents and passions in serving the community by picking up your own book at your favorite online bookseller OR bring us to your school, church or community organization to lead service-learning workshop!

ged youth and their volunteers to join the trail workers for a day on Squak Mountain. They had to adapt some of the tools and pick places that were wheelchair and walker-accessible, but in the end, all the youth were doing a service-learning project together and clearing the trails. Then the Parks folks hosted a big barbeque for all the dirty, grimy kids at the end of the day. The distinction between volunteer and client had just dissolved through the mutual service. How cool was that.”

 

5 Ways to Be Prepared as an Educator, Youth Worker or Coach

February 11th, 2015

Excerpted from Groups Troops, Clubs and Classrooms by Ragsdale and Saylor

Being prepared for a group means having a plan A, B, C, and sometimes D—at least in your head. For example, you had planned activities for 45 youth but only 10 show up. You were supposed to have a guest speaker, but she suddenly cancels. Now what? How can you make the time together meaningful and worthwhile? Or, you planned for two hours of programming or instruction, but circumstances beyond your control interrupt your plan. Now you now have 45 minutes to get across a meaty subject like dealing with bullies, learning the secrets of closing a debate, reducing fractions, or planning a service project. What do you do?

Here’s what we’ve learned:

Try not to take yourself too seriously. Relax and be willing to adapt your plan. Keep the flow moving so that the time you do have with them is meaningful.

Have more games, activities, examples, and ideas than you will use. If you are over-prepared, you will have the flexibility to add, delete, or move content as needed.

Have a variety of ways to approach your content. When 10 people show up instead of 45 (or vice versa), you can adapt your methods. This strategy also means being able to present content in different ways to accommodate various learning styles. Consider the multiple intelligences in your group when developing each lesson plan. Challenge yourself to use at least two or three styles so that you are engaging as many youth as you can in what you do. Mix it up. Present information visually, verbally, with movement, and so forth.

Have flex in the content. Sometimes you come in ready to get across a key message or explore a subject only to discover that your group isn’t where you thought they were. Let go. Meet them where they are. That might mean taking a deeper dive into your topic or introducing the idea and slowly beginning to work on it. Sometimes you have to swim in the shallow end of the discovery pool.

Be willing to let go. On occasion, you might have to totally adjust your plan. Be present enough to know when forging ahead with an agenda is useless because the young people in your classroom or group are not “there.” And if they aren’t there, they aren’t going to receive your message, and they won’t see you as the person who is truly present for them. Have a plan but be ready to adjust to the circumstances. Be flexible and adaptable, read the group, and adjust as necessary. It’s an art!

This is an excerpt from our new book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

Engaging Youth: Finding and Connecting with a Sense of Purpose

February 9th, 2015

This has been one of our most popular workshops over the last few years.  Young people yearn to live a life full of meaning and purpose.  Caring adults are critical in helping youth discover and achiever their purpose.  This highly engaging workshop will teach youth workers and educators tricks and tips for helping youth find their sparks and cast a vision for their lives.

title: Engaging Youth: Finding and Connecting with a Sense of Purpose

description: The latest research on “sparks” shows that when youth know and can name their sparks, then good things happen – in schools, in themselves and for their lives. This lively session will educate participants on sparks; how sparks connect to developing a sense of purpose; and ideas for cultivating them in youth. Experience and learn for yourselves some fun, interactive venues for youth to identify strengths, resources and goals for themselves that they can carry with them into adulthood.

time: 2 hours

Audience:  youth workers, educators, parents

Contact us if you want to bring this workshop to your organization – 615-262-9676 or cad@TheAssetEdge.net.

 

Youth Heroes: Caring for the Sick

February 6th, 2015

“As a pastor,” Julie Stevens says, “it is part of my job to do hospital visitation. I do this each week as a pastor. It is difficult at times to involve youth in the visits. In Cincinnati, Ohio, our kids make colorful banners for each person I visit. They’re a computer print out that say ‘we love and are praying for you.’ The kids put the different people’s names on them, color them and sign their names. We do this each week. We pray for each person, and then I take them into the hospital with me on my visit.”

 

She goes on, “one group I worked with made a tape of prayers to share with a person they were close to who was sick. Each person shared his/her own individual prayers and thoughts. That was a great gift to give someone who was sick – different voices all sharing love and concerns. Music is another great way to care for the sick. Youth could make a tape of their favorite music to send the person.”

 

— Reprinted with permission from our book Ready to Go Service Projects: 140 Ways for Youth Groups to Lend a Hand. Find more ways to help youth engage their skills, talents and passions in serving the community by picking up your own book at your favorite online bookseller OR bring us to your school, church or community organization to lead service-learning workshop!

James Vollbracht on Youth Development and Education

February 4th, 2015

James Vollbracht, author of Stopping at Every Lemonade Stand: How to Create a Culture That Cares for Kids, gives this wonderful advice:

We must remember that children are very new to the world and don’t have the sense of context that we do. Everything they see, hear and experience becomes a part of them. We are stewards of this most important resource, to which we have unquestionable responsibilities: to shield them from harmful and inappropriate experiences, to provide them with opportunities and invitations to participate in the life of the community that will allow their innate gifts to unfold naturally, to guide them through important rites of passage, and to love them unconditionally.

Growing Kids through Literacy, Creativity and Play

February 2nd, 2015

Character is an ageless hot topic for educators, parents and youth workers.  We all want to nurture character development in children, but sometimes we don’t know where to start.  And we don’t know how to find time amidst standards, tests and group dynamics.  We worked with educational experts to develop some creative strategies to build character.

Title: Growing Kids through Literacy, Creativity and Play

Description:  How do you teach character to children? You play games; you act out storybooks; you let them paint. And while they’re having fun, you weave in conversations about positive values. Explore and learn creative and playful methods for teaching character and literacy from the book, Building Character from the Start and from the guidebook “Tales Told Twice.” Collect ideas and learn how to get a free copy of the Tales Told Twice! (adaptable for grades k-12)

Audience:  k-12 educators and youth workers

Time: 2-3 hours

Schedule: 615-262-9676 or cad@TheAssetEdge.net

Youth Heroes: Helping Teens with Challenges

January 30th, 2015

‘There was a young lady from a youth group in Las Vegas, Nevada who had a brother with mental challenges,’ Tony Ganger recalled.

 

In the group, she had shared her family’s frustration with getting quality services and opportunities for him. The group decided they wanted to take this issue on as a project focus.

 

Over the next several weeks, the group worked to identify organizations that worked and served people with challenges (mental, physical, etc.). As the youth group talked with individuals at each of the agencies, they discovered that all the organizations weren’t connected. They didn’t know what each agency offered or how to refer individuals to the best services.

 

The youth saw that they could do something to make things better for their community. They hosted a meeting and invited all the agencies that served people with challenges to meet together. The youth group got things rolling by starting the conversation with the agencies so that everyone could find out what others were doing and what services they provided.

 

From this bit of research and organization led by youth, the community agencies started doing collaborative projects together. The youth continued on from that point to offer an on-going class (a 4-6 week program) for teens with challenges. The various community organizations provided the leadership for each session’s topics (grocery shopping to having a bank account to recreational activities) and the youth group would also attend to develop relationships with the class’ participants.

Reprinted with permission from our book Ready to Go Service Projects: 140 Ways for Youth Groups to Lend a Hand. Find more ways to help youth engage their skills, talents and passions in serving the community by picking up your own book at your favorite online bookseller OR bring us to your school, church or community organization to lead service-learning workshop!

Inspiring Youth to be Bold and Courageous

January 28th, 2015

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

–Mark Twain, author

 

Encourage young people to be brave and try new things. It’s easy for people to get stuck in a rut, doing the same things they have always done. Sometimes that stems from complacency, insecurity, or fear. Challenge your youth to be adventurous and be bold. If they express fear about something they have always wanted to try, ask them to consider these questions:

  • What’s the worst thing that could happen if you tried it?
  • What’s the best thing that could happen if you tried it?
  • What would give you the courage to try it?
  • How can I or other adults support you in your adventures?

Sometimes that little push is all a young person needs. Remember that for some young people, trying new things is a scary adventure. Be the cheerleader and the encourager as you guide them into the unknown. They just might discover a whole new part of themselves along the way.

This is an excerpt from our newest book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

 

Play with Purpose Workshop!

January 26th, 2015

Love the idea of play with purpose, but want to know more?  Check out this wildly popular workshop:

Title: Great Group Games: Building Relationships and Teams

Description: Learn games to build solid relationships and create a safe space that invites youth to play and learn! Based on the best-selling book Great Group Games, each game connects to group development stages and back to the assets. Participants will learn how to “play with purpose” having fun AND implementing best practices at the same time.

Audience: advisory groups, clubs/teams, classrooms

Time:  2 hours

Schedule by contacting us at 615-262-9676 or cad@TheAssetEdge.net