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Youth Heroes Stand Against Abusive Relationships

May 1st, 2015

Teens Experiencing Abusive Relationships (TEAR) is a group of New Jersey teenagers that want to prevent dating violence through education. Through speaking engagements, print materials, and charity events, TEAR teens define violent relationships and tell their peers how to escape unhealthy relationships. Each of their teen presenters has experienced dating violence personally or they have seen how it has affected a friend. They use their experiences to reach others in similar situations.

 

 

The teen leaders say, “We hope one day we’ll have an office that would include medical assistance, therapy, group sessions, a national dating violence hotline and legal help. Our dreams are big and our efforts to help prevent dating violence will never end. Whether it’s teaching a class, writing a curriculum for schools, or having a hotline and shelter

in the future, TEAR knows that anything is possible.” For more information, visit teensagainstabuse.org

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!

3 Tips for Helping Youth Harness Their Emotional Power

April 29th, 2015

Keep in mind these tips that Elizabeth Parrot, a school counselor, recommends to guide you as you help young people harness their power:

  1. Let kids fail. Don’t fix everything for them. People learn from mistakes and that’s where confidence comes from. If we fix everything, kids won’t learn how to live in the tough moments. As they learn to manage their emotions, they are sure to make big blunders. They will blurt out feelings in an inappropriate context, tempers will explode in public places, and they will say hurtful things. After the mistakes happen, talk through the circumstances, and help young people identify ways that they can reconcile any hurt relationships and plan new behavior patterns for future circumstances.
  2. Their brains and their bodies are developing faster than they want. Youth often feel like everyone’s watching them; they feel like they have their own audience watching and waiting to see how they will do, waiting for them to make a mistake, for them to fail. Empathize with young people. Use gentle humor to lighten situations. The world is not ending because something embarrassing happens. Help them learn to laugh at themselves and realize that everyone makes mistakes. Help them learn not take themselves so seriously.
  3. Listen. Are you listening with eyes, ears, and heart? Or are you listening with what you will say next? Listening is the most important thing. They don’t want you to fix them. They just want their voices to be heard. When they feel supported, they will have more courage to look at their behaviors and consider changes that need to be made.

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!

Youth Heroes: Community Clean-Up

April 24th, 2015

In North Carolina, one group of middle school aged children expressed their frustration and concern about the continued presence of broken glass on the sidewalks and paths from their neighborhood to the elementary school as well as on the grassy play areas along the way. There was so much broken glass that they were concerned that their little brothers and sisters would get hurt. As a group, they decided to clean up the sidewalks and the play area and ask adults to help them keep the little kids safe. This group of middle school children became the catalysts for adults (non-parental units) to walk kids to school and to oversee that the playground stayed free of danger.

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!

13 Ways to Engage Youth as Leaders

April 22nd, 2015

Always be on the lookout for ways to expand power in your group by sharing responsibilities for tasks and leadership. Here are some specific roles youth leaders can play:

  1. Make choices
  2. Make decisions
  3. Allocate priorities
  4. Determine activities
  5. Influence topics
  6. Set and uphold norms
  7.  Take the lead on projects
  8. Advocate
  9. Call the group to order
  10. Give a thought for the day
  11. Lead the group session
  12. Write a grant for a project
  13. Create a website

Youth will be more prepared to navigate personal and group choices in the future if you let them take the lead. Let them practice decision making, communication, time management, and leadership.

As you plan your schedules, activities, and programming, where can youth take the initiative?

Want to learn more?  Continue reading in 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!

 

Youth Heroes focus on Peace and Reconciliation

April 17th, 2015

A volunteer group from First Presbyterian Church in Tennessee traveled to Northern Ireland as a part of a worldwide peace and reconciliation project. One of their projects was to restore the flower beds in a 10 unit assisted living center and 10 duplex homes.

 

Jacquie Watlington said, “It seemed like a small project, until the Street Reach organizers told us the significance of the work. We were told that not only did this help restore the tenant pride and sense of well-being, but it was also a means of protection. It turns out that many thieves watch for messy landscaping as a signal that the resident was not able to do the upkeep on their home and would be an easy target for crime.”

 

When they finished their mini-yards, they hosted a cookout in the central courtyard. It took extra time to get their wheelchairs outside, but the senior citizens loved the gathering, as they seldom had reason to socialize with each other or the opportunity to leave their homes for such a celebration.

 

Their other projects included cleaning up the community playground and hosting a community wide cook out for the neighborhood families, a great intergenerational experience.

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!

3 Practical Ways to Power Up Youth Leadership

April 15th, 2015

Nudge youth who are hesitant to take on leadership roles. Start by encouraging youth to share their sparks. When caught up in the passion of a spark, youth tend to have a boost of confidence and are less self-conscious. Then help them find ways to use their sparks to serve and lead in your program. They will become a coach, an expert, or a mentor without even realizing they were stepping into a leadership position.

Start small. Start sharing power by delegating smaller tasks, such as serving snacks, organizing workspaces, decorating the building, or helping with a fundraiser. Then progress to more complex tasks, such as reading to preschool children, leading games for younger children, helping peers with homework, being an assistant coach for a children’s soccer team, or being a buddy for a newcomer in your program.

Look for ways to spotlight youth strengths during program time. Let them tell jokes, lead activities, demonstrate martial arts or another skill, or cook for parent night. As they explore and live by their sparks, you will see youth come alive, and you will witness a new spirit of life in your group. The ramifications of that new spirit are endless.

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!

 

Classic Children’s Books

April 13th, 2015

The library is so vast, that it’s sometimes hard to know where to start looking for good books.  Check out this list of classic youth stories from my friend Mary Young:

Where the red fern grows
Wrinkle in time
Island of the blue dolphins
My side of the mtn.   The Hobbit
Chronicles of narnia
Treasure island
Swiss family Robinson
Robin hood
Black beauty
The black stallion
Treasures of the snow
Little house on the prairie
Little women.
Johnny tremain
Little men

Youth Heroes and Safe Driving

April 10th, 2015

The slogan of Jacobs High School Project Ignition in Illinois is “In the Blink of an Eye – Think Before You Drive”. JHS Students have adopted safe driving as their service-learning theme. Last year student leaders planned 30 different projects to promote safe driving.

 

  • They educated students on safe driving skills through Safety Week, accident simulations, student-made signs around campus and a movie about common driving distractions. Their Seatbelt Check increased student seatbelt wearing from 70% to 98%.
  • They created a Safety Town to educate children about safety at home and in the community.
  • They educated parents through a presentation called, “How to Crash Proof Their Kids” and a parent/student handbook with 30 driving lessons.
  • They even had a prom re-enactment crash to educate students on the dangers of drinking alcohol. The event included a fake crash on their football field, a smoking car, a helicopter flying injured passengers to the hospital, and a funeral procession. For the first time in the school’s 30-year history, there were no alcohol incidents on prom night.

 

These students are serious about creating a community of safe drivers. You can read more about their stories at www.hdjprojectignition.com. You can also read more stories from State Farm Project Ignition grantees at www.sfprojectignition.com.

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!

Resources for Teaching Tolerance

April 8th, 2015

Have you seen all the cool resources you can access from Teaching Tolerance?  Here is a sampling:

Racial Profiling

Defusing School Violence

Unequal Unemployment

The Motivation for Movement (immigration)

Progressive City Planners

Changing Demographics: What Can We Do to Promote Respect?

Freedom’s Main Line (segregation in KY)

You can find a full list of their resources at http://www.tolerance.org/classroom-resources.

4 Steps to Help Power Up Youth in Your Program or Classroom

April 1st, 2015

Excerpted from Groups Troops, Clubs and Classrooms by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor, 2014

Where Will I Start? How Much Can I Do?

Your first challenge is to think about what your program’s intention is and then, based on your answer, determine how your program can realistically evolve into helping youth discover their passions, purpose, and power. Assessing your program will help you get clear about what you offer and where you can and want to “power up.” It will also help you be clear and honest in presenting your program to youth—what it is about, what they can expect from the experience, and what the opportunities are. It eliminates any erring sense of enthusiasm to be all things to all young people. In being real, you put the choice into their hands—they can decide whether your program is the right one for them.

In order to be that articulate and knowledgeable about your program, it’s important for you to understand where you are right now. It’s important for you to self-assess, to identify where you are and then think about where you want to be, how much you want to expand efforts and power. As you self-assess, be as honest as possible. Keep thinking about what you’ve learned regarding the importance of building strengths and power. What are you willing to do? And by that we mean, what are you really willing to do, day-in and day-out, in your program?

Self-assessment involves the following:

  1. Identify where you already expand power (and celebrate what you already do!).
  2. Ask yourself—and be brutally honest—about how much power you are willing and able to share.
  3. Think about how you can, to the best of your abilities, expand power. Identify where you want to be as a program, classroom, and leader.
  4. Assess your plan: How much support can you expect from your agency on your quest to give youth power?

Here’s a visual to give perspective to the assessment: Picture yourself standing over a pond. Toss a pebble into the water. Does it go straight for the bottom creating a deep reach? Or does it have a light touch that nevertheless sends waves across a great expanse of the water? Notice the circular ripples and waves that gently expand out from that intentional act. Notice how wide the circles expand, how far out they extend before things become calm again. Your program creates ripples. Your actions generate power and expand power.

Take time to ponder how much you can expand power in youth right now. Then determine how much and how far you want to extend and widen your powerful surge.

Want to learn more?  Check out 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!

Words from Youth

March 30th, 2015

“I need a neighbor who says “hi” to me even though we may be too loud or play in the street.”

youth leader from the Green Hills YMCA in Nashville

 

You might hear similar pleas from youth around you:

“I need a teacher who cares about me, even when I don’t make good grades.”

“I need a coach who will let me be part of the team, even if I’m not the best player.”

“I need a counselor who will believe in me, even after making big mistakes.”

 

Do you believe in the young people around you?  Do you support youth, no matter who they are?  How might you love young people from the inside out?

Youth Heroes go to Mexico with their Families

March 27th, 2015

‘At our church in San Diego, California, we started leading family mission trips between Christmas and New Years,’ Julie Stevens recalls. ‘The basic idea was for 100 people from infant to 70 years old to go to Mexico and lead Vacation Bible School, build classrooms on a school, and at nights offer intergenerational services.

 

‘It was a great bonding time within families. They worked together on a common goal. The adults went out of their way to include kids (it took longer to build a classroom or what have you, but they took the time to make it happen).

 

‘The kids learned to see outside themselves and how good they have it, but the adults also learned the same lesson: I have it better than I think I did. To have a whole family see that and to value family at the same time, they were able to see they shouldn’t take things for granted and were able to see how they worked together in a 3rd world country. The could see how families in another country value each other and take care of each other. The saw people who have peace and don’t take for granted the basic things in life.

 

‘The 1st year we built houses and did VBS in a dump. The next year we built two classrooms and did VBS. All the kids would be on the side playing with kids in the neighborhood in the dump – soccer was very popular.

 

‘Our kids also shared their faith with the kids they got to know there in Mexico. There was one boy, Enrique, that was there every day that the kids got to know well. The kids would show Enrique their favorite story in the Bible and he would look it up in his Bible to read it in his language.

 

‘I had been teaching them stories and they were able to turn around and share their favorite stories with their new friends in Mexico.’ Julie explains. ‘It completed the circle of sharing with each other. They ended up taking my Bible (Pastor Julie’s) and every kid circled their favorite verses in the Bible and gave it to Enrique before they left.

 

They did it at the end of the trip when we had a ceremony to give the keys to the family we had built a home for. That’s when they also gave the Bible to Enrique.’

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 Challenge Youth to Become Social Entrepreneurs

March 25th, 2015

If your young people are fired up about tackling issues and have ideas for wide-scale change, they may be social entrepreneurs in the making. Do your young people seem to be change agents at heart? Do they seek to invent new approaches and improve systems? “That’s what social entrepreneurs do,” says Bill Drayton, CEO of Ashoka. “Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.” Social entrepreneurs often weave philanthropy and business with ideas that unstick systems or impact communities in big, powerful, society-changing ways.

Strategic Moves

  1. Invite your youth to take a social entrepreneur quiz or practice building a socially conscious business at The New Heroes, “Are You the Next New Hero?” www.pbs.org/opb/thenewheroes/engage/
  2. Read stories of other young      social entrepreneurs in this article: “Meet the 25 Most Influential People      in the World!” Huffington Post.      June 18, 2012. www.huffingtonpost.com/news/25-most-powerful-and-influential-young-people-in-the-world
  3. As a group, join others in      solving big challenges at www.openideo.com/
  4. Teach a course on social      entrepreneurship. Check out the free curriculum at The New Heroes,      “Classroom Materials,” www.pbs.org/opb/thenewheroes/teachers/
  5. Find funding for creative      projects at Kickstarter, www.kickstarter.com/
  6. Be inspired by other ideas      at http://innovideo.tv/ and at      http://changemaking.ashoka.org/

 

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!

Youth Heroes: Potato Drop

March 20th, 2015

The Society of St. Andrews in North Carolina goes to restaurants, grocery stores, and food distributors to get the food that will be thrown away. After collecting the food, they give them to organizations that can the food onto the tables of those who need food immediately.

 

The task our youth group did with St. Andrews was to work with their ‘potato drop.’   St. Andrews finds potatoes that were not harvested the first go around. These potatoes are considered not sellable, but are in fact, perfectly fine. St Andrews collects the potatoes (1,000s of lbs of potatoes), drops them in a field, and then gives volunteers some bags and twist ties. Our youth would fill up the 3 lb sacks to give them away. They simply circle the mound of potatoes, bag ‘em and load ‘em on the truck and then the potatoes are distributed to organizations and in some cases distributed directly to families.

 

‘What I remember about this,’ Amanda tells me, ‘is that the connection the teens made is that the potatoes they were bagging were perfectly good potatoes. They shared a common frustration and question of why are these being thrown away when there are people who are hungry?

 

Their global thinking kicked in as they thought about the excess of food and how we’re throwing these away because they’re not perfect, yet people in other parts of the world are eating grass and starving.’

 

The project was one that let up to 4,000 youth work together all at once. The teens really felt they were part of a larger community and that they were part of something bigger than themselves and they were making a difference.’

 

— 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!

Take a Stand – A Service-Learning Activity for Exploring Interests

March 18th, 2015

What issues is your group willing to take a stand on? Poll your group by having each person vote with their feet by simultaneously moving to a corner of the room that represents their answer.  Group members will be able to look around the group to see the kinds of social issues each person is interested in.  This will help you gauge the interests of the group, so you can know what kinds of service or advocacy projects to explore together.

  • You have extra money to donate to a cause. Will you give it to help the homeless or to address environmental issues?
  • You have a day to volunteer. Will you help the animal shelter or a nursing home?
  •  You are going to answer the phone to accept donations for a service group. Would you rather answer the phone for raising money for world hunger or for saving the whales?
  •  You get to choose how the city will spend its financial and physical resources. Will you vote to help disaster relief victims or senior citizens?
  •  You’ve been chosen to speak to a group of lawmakers. Would you rather speak about childhood obesity or violence in schools?

Ask the group for other causes that mean something to them and why they’re important to them. Brainstorm ways youth can help. Then get busy! Pick an issue you want to tackle or a project idea that everyone agrees on and get to work.

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!