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Youth Leadership programming?

2010
 
Hey CYCs of the world!!!
 
I work in a secondary program for students at-risk (of not completing their secondary school education).  As a part of the bi-weekly social-emotional learning, I have been asked to find leadership activities and programming for them to partake in that are student-led.  Some ideas given to me were for the students to organize and run the nutrition program, start a recycling club, start and manage a walk-in clothes closet for the school, etc.  These are all fine ideas, but I'm looking for something more.  I feel these suggestions are valuable to the school community, but do little to teach leadership and how to be a good leader to OUR kids.  I feel that if the program were to initiate ONLY these types of activities for the students, it would eventually be dropped by the students only to be picked up by the staff, teaching the students nothing. 
 
If anyone has any suggestions, prior experiences, or programs already developed to assist in social-emotional learning or leadership please contact me at 
julia.evangelisto@hwdsb.on.ca
 
Thanks!!!
 
Julia Evangelisto
...

 
Hi,
 
Try running a peer education program where you teach the peers basically how to teach their own peers on a subject.  I really like using art (music or visual, both work well with agw group). Self-esteem is something they need at that age so maybe start a self-esteem group (feel good group) using a variety of art mediums to express themselves. There are many wonderful art therapy resources out there.
 
Hope this helps.

S. Boucher
...
 
Hi Julia,
 
Try the website:  www.nasponline.org
 
This is a great website to assist you with helping the youths develop social emotional learning.
 
Good luck,
 
Brigitte LeBlanc
Victoria, BC
...

Check out this initiative
http://www.challengeday.org/videos.php
 
Also look at the "Youthbuild" website and also if you want any "community youth mapping initiatives". You can both google this topic and look for examples on Youtube.
 
Another idea is to train them as "peacebuilders" and as circle facilitators.
 
Rick Kelly
Toronto
...

Julia
 
You really need something that only students can do for other students. Say crisis line or Dear Abby type things. How about a group that goes to the younger schools and talks about things important to them. Or where to go for help? Create books that help homeless teens get a place to live and help with issues. Something like a 911 from teens to teens.
 
Donna Wilson
...

I would suggest creating a vehicle whereby you survey (ask the youth in writing or by visiting their classrooms,inviting them to focus groups...make it fun and make sure you have FOOD available) the youth themselves and find out what is important to them and where/what they themselves identify as  "a need."  For example, do a needs assessment that includes and highlights what's currently working,reflects what service they think is lacking and what they think could work etc. 
 
I helped coordinate the development of a prevention and education program for at risk, transient and street identified youth but the success of the program was the direct result of going to the youth (target population) and getting and USING their input, on an ongoing basis and involving them in every aspect of the project.  It created skill development for the youth, accountability, responsibility, ownership for the success and an amazing program that eventually was fully funded and became a permanent part of the centre's programming.
 
Please ensure you are engaging a diverse student base, that reflects the student population and is balance between those who are really motivated with a high self-esteem and those who need encouragement to recognize their strengths etc. Also experienced facilitators really help the process and give everyone an opportunity to share or provide input and feedback and help thing continue to flow. The youth may need more direction in the beginning of the process to establish group guidelines etc. but really should be able to lead the process eventually with less and less involvement of adults. The adults become mentors and offer suggestions etc. as the process evolves.
 
Youth are creative, intelligent and when given just enough support, guidance and freedom...can create amazing things...all the very best.
 
Brenda MacGillivray
...
 
Hi Julia
 
I also work as part of an interdisciplinary team in a secondary school set in an urban community.  Working with students in crisis who are also at risk of not completing school because of social/financial or mental health issues has prompted us to explore alternative learning environments that not only promote student engagement, provide access to crisis intervention as necessary but to also help students toward credit accumulation.  As Child Youth Care Workers we have worked well with other disciplines in wrap around services for our clients, why not work with teachers to provide the socio-emotional support that adolescents need but also have them earning secondary school credits.  Win-win situation!  I am aware of promotions that combine therapeutic activities with course codes that allow teachers to provide necessary credits. Some more successful than others. I believe this is definitely a valuable role for CYW's in the education system.

Sherry Migliacci
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