Hello from Pittsburgh, the city of Andrew Carnegie, the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates where Three Rivers Stadium is in its last year and there are no longer any steel mills. Pittsburgh is a city that does not deserve the negative stereotypes and bad press it gets. Why would any child or youth care worker visit Pittsburgh, if they weren't going to visit Karen VanderVen and Martha Mattingly at one of the local universities?
Jane and I went to Pittsburgh where we joined a study tour and then attended the Association of College and University Housing Officers International (ACUHO-I) Conference at the Convention Centre with 700 other delegates from North America and overseas. The two-day vendors' exhibition was worth visiting on its own! How many times have you attended a child and youth care conference with a vendors' display that included more than books or t-shirts for sale, and a few courses or consultants advertising? The Conference vendors display let us explore architectural designs, options for outfitting or re-equipping rooms, dining and catering options, training materials, security and other daily features of child and youth care practice!
Vendors exhibition at the Pittsburgh ACUHO-I Conference
A significant proportion of this annual conference that draws 700 to 1200 delegates each year is concerned with first year college and university students, or young people aged between 17-19. It comes, therefore, as a surprise to me that child and youth care workers almost never see themselves as having anything to do with college and university housing. This is all the more curious when one thinks of the number of child and youth care workers who might have lived in a college or university residence at an early stage in their careers. In the Education System, instead of the more traditional Health, Social Welfare and Justice Systems where child and youth care workers are employed, there are many normative opportunities for child and youth care practice. What a contribution child and youth care workers might make in the field of College and University Residence Life.
It is interesting to note that about sixty percent of colleges and universities in North America require students to live on campus in a residence hall. Some universities like Cornell do not require students to live on campus while others like Syracuse require students to live on campus for two years! There are a number of 1800 bed residence halls, like found in Pittsburgh! These leave me feeling that child and youth care workers could teach the student residence life field a thing or two about personalized care and activity programming for young people during predictable life transitions.
Stop and think about important youth care issues at college or university
Across the US and Canada, colleges and universities are building new halls of residence. New buildings are accommodating 150-200 in single and double occupancy rooms with shared toileting and shower facilities. Rooms have telephones, refrigerator-microwave oven, and cable access to the internet and television. Meals are offered on site and not an anonymous food court. Resident academics are being appointed to facilitate and support student living-learning-leadership communities. Do those ideals sound familiar to youth workers?