Thursday, December 8, 2016

EVENT #2 Governor's walk with PASA at Del Sesto

For my second event, I was inclined to go because it was another opportunity for selling the Youth Development brand to individuals and legislators who are unfamiliar with its scope and impact. On Monday December 5th, RI Governor Gina Raimondo planned a visit to Del Sesto middle school to peek in on PASA (Providence Afterschool Alliance) afterschool programming. In addition to a few a handful of other students in the major, we walked into each room that held a different sort of activity (sewing in the home ec room), (stress balloon making), (dance team) etc. Once the governor toured through the rooms, she sat across the table from us for a chance to deliver a more elaborate elevator speech to enlighten her on what she just saw in terms of examples that resonate as cornerstones in the field like building relationships, creating safe spaces, leading with, and recognizing context and individual strengths/needs. For about 45 minutes prior to our walkthrough, we structured a dialogue that each of us would offer examples around each of four cornerstones to Youth Development that we wanted to convey. When the time came to actually deliver that information, our planned turn taking to speak on got thrown off with the governor diverting to a question of why some of chose to switch from Education into Youth Development. I am quite proud of myself for using that opportunity to insert my point about creating safe spaces and that basically I wouldn't be able to if I hadn't picked this path because a lot of times that isn't as easy or within the methodology of running a strictly academic classroom. It was an honor to represent our program and speak on its behalf with Governor Raimondo and right up my sleeve of wanting to be an advocate for the youth at a higher level.

EVENT #1 RIC Open House

For my first event, I attended the open house at Rhode Island College on November 12th. It was an awesome opportunity to refine my elevator speech for selling the program as a high school graduates intended major or as new information to adults and other young people presenting it as an option for the first time ever. As I am reminded that our BA program is the only one available in the northeast, I thought it interesting to insert in my speech. I wanted to go because I get so many questions from family members and friends like, "so what will you have a degree in when you graduate, again?" or "What can you do with Youth Development?" It almost seems ignorant of them to ask, but in most cases, it hasn't been heard of enough. In relation to course themes, I would say this event allowed me to practice advocating for the youth at a different level. I say that from the perspective of how I want to do work in the field as I've started to develop working with United Way. I acted as an advocate that day to recruit the next cohorts of youth workers and grow the field. Without skilled individuals working with them in their programs and helping them realize their strengths and building on those, they have less of a chance to flourish. That extra support outside of the academic environment and away from home is where youth workers practice. Giving the youth voice and choice, building better relationships, and learning to be an advocate WITH them starts when you get to college and make that decision and in professional development opportunities.  There was a slow turn out by our table at the event, and we got a few names interested in the program so it was a mildly successful platform for getting the major out as a new brand.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

When you say Y, I say....

     When a family member during the upcoming holiday gatherings asks about what I'm majoring in and studying within my academic career, I will feel more than equipped to answer with my content knowledge and reading through Strengthening the Youth Development/After-school Workforce. Youth Development is studied through the lenses of social work practice, special education, and nonprofit studies. As practicing youth workers, our cornerstones for practice are leading with youth, creating safe spaces, tailoring content in recognizing specific skill sets, and building relationships.
     I liked the visual the article gives:
     The pipeline is chronological starting with early childhood on the left running through work and career to the right with the supports of family, peers, and community members. Youth workers are a major part of the insulating material. A student's learning, enrichment, and self expression cannot all take place between the hours of 8a to 2p. Youth Development exists as a field because there's a need for higher quality afterschool programming and support for young people rather than just throwing federal funding at the programs themselves. There's a real demand for high quality youth workers. That's a job title that people need to start accepting as more than babysitting. In the way I envision the kind of work I want to get into, I choose to work more behind the scenes for our youth in policy and advocacy. I want to stand with counselors, mentors, coaches, and librarians and support them as youth professionals and figure out what the youth need and even through the rest of their pipeline.