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Words from Youth Workers: Developmental Assets

July 29th, 2015

Developmental assets remind us that it’s the little, everyday things that are important with kids: listening, playing, having conversations about the things that are important to them.  Assets keep us REAL and connected.”  YMCA youth worker, Nashville

Wanna know more about the assets?  Ask us about connecting you to literature or workshops to help your organization understand and utilize the framework or Developmental Assets.  It’s not an add-on – it’s a way of living and being and talking together!

Words from Youth Workers: Positive Youth Development

July 22nd, 2015

“Always look for any strength and build on it.  Let one thing be the beginning building block.”

youth worker, Nashville

 

Make a habit to find one good thing about every person you meet.  Say it outloud to the person you meet.  You might be the only one who has noticed a good trait in him/her for a long time!  This is the basic foundation of positive youth development.

Words from Youth: Diversity and Acceptance

July 15th, 2015

“Respect my ideas and listen to me, even when they’re different.”

youth leader, youth development center in Nashville

 

Ask a young person how well you are doing in the respect department.  What about people that are different from you?  What about people with different ideas than you?  How could you be more accepting of youth around you?

Field Trips to Explore Youth Perspectives: Virtual and Real-Time Opportunities

July 8th, 2015

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

Field trips are a powerful way to help youth expand their perspectives. They help youth learn more about the community and expand their horizons of opportunity and awareness. Field trips can reinforce academic, civic, or cultural learning and connect to the personal sparks or interests of young people. Field trips are powerful ways to help youth explore potential connections to the community with regard to internships, career fields, hobbies, and volunteer opportunities.

Choose field trips that give youth different perspectives of what makes the community work and demonstrate a variety of sparks. Try one of these: airport, bakery, pro sports team practice, cathedral, farm, factory, science lab, or a military base. Think about what makes your community unique and take youth to explore your community on a deeper level. Where could you take your youth to give them the most diverse perspective possible?

Or consider virtual field trips:

  • Use Skype to interact with      people across the world. Skyping can prepare youth for what they might      experience on an upcoming trip to another part of the world or it can be a      conduit for creating updated versions of “pen-pals.”
  • Virtual classrooms can      provide venues for groups to connect through technology for the sake of      discussions or doing presentations.
  • Take virtual field trips      around the world to learn about anything you want to. The website      www.meetmeatthecorner.org has many virtual field trips submitted by      children around the world.
  • Have youth create and submit      their own videos to share on Meet Me at the Corner’s website.
  • Use a search engine to      research topics of interest to your group. Just remember to preview any      media content that you share with your group.

 

Looking for more ways to help young people explore the world?  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!

One Person. One Moment. A Lifetime of Change.

June 24th, 2015

Repost from www.jonathanfields.com:

We tend to think of profound change as a process that happens over time.

Sometimes, that’s true. But other times, deep, lasting change can happen in a moment. I have no idea if there’s a clinical name for it, but I’ve seen it happen so many times, I just started calling it “snapping.” As in something snaps you into a new awakening or state of being.

It could be a deed, a word, an experience. Seconds long. Something that shifts your belief and empowers faith and action. Sometimes that new state is negative or destructive. I’m more fascinated with positive or constructive snapping.

In this week’s episode of Good Life Project™, iconic designer and founder of New York magazine, Milton Glaser, shared just such a moment. Something happened more than 50 years earlier in his life. A moment that lasted no more than a few minutes. Yet, he’s never forgotten it. The impact was that deep.

The story gave me chills as he told it. So, I felt I had to share it here with all of you:

Keep reading the story here:  http://www.jonathanfields.com/one-person-milton-glaser/

Silence – An Unexpected Strategy for Engaging Youth

June 17th, 2015

As you listen to youth, make sure you invite silence into the conversation. Some of us hurry conversations because silence makes us uncomfortable. Silence, however, is a friend to conversations and creates space for introverts to think and for everyone to reflect. After you ask a question, wait 10–12 seconds (count: one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, and so forth) before you ask another question. Or breathe slowly in-between. These two tricks will help you slow down and focus on them.

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!

3 Thoughtful Ways to Celebrate Youth

June 3rd, 2015
  1. Designate a “student of the week” parking space; if you have space for a sign, write his or her name on the sign
  2. Shower them with cards throughout the year: birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving
  3. Write personal notes to children when they are absent, letting them know you missed them and look forward to seeing them soon. (Susan still remembers her mom, Betty Ragsdale, doing this in her youth group and how much it meant to the kids.)

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!

8 Simple Gifts to Celebrate Youth Achievements

May 27th, 2015
  1. Make a certificate that highlights their work
  2. Give them candy with a note attached:
    • Starbursts—you are a star student
    • Kudos—we’re grateful for you
    • Almond Joy—you bring joy to our group!
  3. Surprise them with a hot chocolate or lollipop party
  4. Bake a thank you cake or cupcakes
  5. Give gift certificates to their favorite places
  6. Make CDs or iTunes playlists with songs that commemorate their achievements
  7. Provide a free meal or soda
  8. Handwrite a note expressing what you appreciate about them

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!

9 Daily Disciplines for Practicing Happiness

May 20th, 2015
  1.  For every negative thing you say, you must state two positive statements to negate the bad juju and reinstate positive vibes. This tactic comes from counselor Elizabeth Parrot.
  2. Use visual cues to remind yourself to be grateful. Post a favorite quote someplace you can see it every day or put a string on your finger. Wear a bracelet on your arm to remind you to focus on good things. Every time you catch yourself saying something negative, move the bracelet to your other arm as a reminder to start again. Forgetfulness is often the force that blocks us from being grateful, so create a visual reminder.
  3. Use an inspirational daily reading or look at things that make you happy. Some examples are the comics, a favorite blog, stories of kindness, the sunset, or photos on Pinterest.
  4. First thing in the morning, before rushing headlong into the day, jump into gratitude and say out loud or in your head three of four things that make you happy. Name little things, maybe even the ones that you take for granted, such as hot showers, coffee, the coveted best seat at the coffee shop, or the fact that all your toes wiggle just as they should.
  5. Always note the smallest efforts and successes. As you start your day, you can probably bank on the fact that not everything will go perfectly. So, why not start the day by identifying five things you have control over. Examples include brushing your teeth, telling your children you love them as they go off to school, getting in a 10-minute workout at the beginning of the day, saying no to the extra donut. We aren’t perfect. Our days aren’t perfect. But there are gifts in each day and we have a choice: we can look for things to be thankful for, or we can disregard things that happened because they didn’t meet our expectations. If you choose to be thankful and magnify that thanks by acknowledgment, you create more of the very energy you want in your life.
  6. Use the words “happy heart” and “happy day” in your daily conversations to generate happiness and remind yourself and others to think about being happy. We often end phone calls and e-mails with “happy day.” And one of our friends uses “happiness” as her password to serve as a daily reminder.
  7. Refer to your journal for inspiration. If you keep a journal of improvements, growth, observations, and unexpected surprises, refer back to it on the hard days when you need a pick-me-up.
  8. Look for successes around you in your youth, colleagues, and even yourself. Be quick to tell your colleagues about little victories; they mostly likely need encouragement too.
  9. Listen to our Practicing Happiness channel on youtube.

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!

Sparks, Careers and Daily Living

May 13th, 2015

Recently I watched Mike Rowe in a worthwhile interview that I enjoyed (Don’t Follow Your Passion, Live It, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIB2qqcEOFU). One reason I enjoyed it was because I admire Mike Rowe, and it’s a joy to see people using their skills and talents for a greater good. And like it or not, that is the path Mike Rowe has found himself on after years of doing the show, Dirty Jobs. Aware of and an advocate for closing the skills gap between EXISTING jobs that are out there and available (83% of companies report a shortage of skilled workers and predictions for worsening conditions in the next several years) and making those options known and possible for youth, Mike stands in the gap to promote, advocate and help connect youth to skilled trades through alternate education. (Check out his website for job and scholarship information at http://profoundlydisconnected.com/foundation/.) The other reason I enjoyed the interview and other materials of his I was reading is his practical stance on life: know what you believe is important and live in a way that is consistent with that belief. Don’t follow your passion – bring it with you. In our book, Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms, The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth, one of Ann’s and my emphasis is the practicality of helping youth discover their sparks. Once youth know their “sparks” – the passion inside that makes them light up and gives them energy and purpose – then they have an essential clue to their wiring and their belief system. They can indentify what is important to them and make sure that they include THAT thing in their lives. And as Mike Rowe emphasizes, it may not be realistic to follow passion and try to make a living from it. My passion for writing books is what I do on my own time – I’m no Stephen King!; my work life is focused on what I do well and I work hard at that, but my life is fuller when I have time to write. So you won’t necessarily make a living from passion, but youth (and you) can bring their sparks into their daily lives, routines, relationships and downtime. That spark is important to know. It provides personal meaning, can serve as a compass for choices and bring joy to life. What is your spark? What brings meaning to your day? Check out our book for ideas on how talk and engage youth in the discovery of their sparks.

6 Tips to Help Youth Manage Conflict

May 6th, 2015

As you model how to resolve conflict peacefully, consider these methods to talk through arguments when they happen.

  1. Pull aside the one or two people in conflict to a semi-private place for the conversation. You don’t want to embarrass or shame by having public confrontations. Shaming and making the young person feel uncomfortable won’t get you anywhere in promoting your cause for positive behavior and tends to do more harm than good.
  2. Use a quiet, calm voice. Reprimanding with a loud voice can fuel anger, frustration, or even bitterness, whereas using a quiet voice helps create a calm environment for you and the youth.
  3. If moderating between two youth, ask them to sit face to face and look each other in the eye. Ask them to talk directly to each other and calmly explain their frustrations. (Don’t tattle to the adult but talk to each other.)
  4. Encourage them to be quick to say, “I’m sorry” for a wrong, assumed or real. If they don’t think they’ve done something wrong, but the other person is convinced that an offense has been committed, encourage “offenders” to recognize and validate the “victim’s” feelings. For example, “Nathan, I’m sorry if you think I hit you on purpose. I didn’t mean to, and I’ll try to watch where I’m walking in the future so I don’t bump into you.”
  5. Remind parties to assume the best about the other person. Rarely is someone “out to get you.” Conflicts often happen from misunderstandings and conversations can often set things right.
  6. Once the conflict has been discussed, agree to move forward and move on. Let the conflict go and refuse to take it into the future. It’s done.

Learning how to handle conflict is tricky! It is not an instinct instilled at birth. Conflict resolution is a learned skill that needs to be practiced many times before it becomes second nature. Offer grace to your youth and let them know they can do it and that the skills they are learning will be valuable throughout their lives. Be patient. Keep in mind that in each situation, your purpose is to put the young person first and the results last. As you make it about them, the result you want to see will come.

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!

6 Strategies for Building Intergenerational Relationships with Youth

May 6th, 2015

Life is not meant to be lived in silos. Humans are hard-wired to connect with others. Young people benefit from meeting different people and working side-by-side on projects as they engage in service and conversation. Find a way to generate interactions with people of various cultures, ages, and lifestyles. Bring them into your classroom or program, plan activities to do with them, visit people who are different from your youth in some way.

Here are 6 strategies that you might consider:

  1. Invite other staff to share their sparks, and make them aware of the interests of your particular youth. This way, other adults can offer encouragement and build connections with your students. Encourage conversations. Encourage questions.
  2. Consider bringing older adults into your building for an intergenerational talent show, a painting class, or a Martin Luther King Day event.
  3. Invite families to bring babies, toddlers, teens, and grandparents to your program often, so you can get to know them. Encourage cross-age mentoring, reading clubs, or nature walks together.
  4. Plan quarterly field trips or do service projects side-by-side with youth from a refugee center or a school for children with disabilities.
  5. Challenge your youth to continually seek relationships through which they can grow and also help others grow. Relationships are transformational—they are the source of constant character development.
  6. Connect youth with classes and people who share similar sparks and interests. If they are interested in cooking, for instance, help them find out about cooking resources around town and online.

This is an excerpt from our new book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  Check it out to help educators, coaches and youth workers find more ways to bring out the best in young people!

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!

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!

 

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!