Friday, December 11, 2015

Strengthening Youth Development Workforce

Youth Development is an important field because it provides youth with meaningful educational, social, and emotional growth opportunities outside of school. Providing quality out of school programs helps foster independent critical thinking skills and provides youth an opportunity to develop leadership skills.

It is important to invest in this field and produce high quality youth workers for these programs to be successful. The Youth Development major at Rhode Island College is doing this by providing partnerships and opportunities to work with local youth in the community, while helping future youth workers to develop professional skills and tools to use with youth. It is exciting to be a part of this relatively new program at RIC, and I believe it is already having a positive impact on youth workers and youth in Rhode Island.

YDEV Event #2 - Lights on Afterschool! Breakfast of Champions

For my second event, I attended the Lights on Afterschool! Breakfast of Champions. The Rhode Island Afterschool Plus Alliance (RIASPA) coordinated this event, and this was the 13th year. According to the RIASPA, the purpose of this event was to bring awareness to the "critical need for and importance of afterschool and summer programs to children, youth, families, and communities; and increased awareness and support for afterschool and summer programs among policymakers, funders, and other decision makers."

The theme of this year was Passion, Potential, and Possibility. All of the speakers did a wonderful job of talking about their experience as youth, working with youth, and the importance of partnerships and involvement in all facets of the local community to provide all youth with opportunities to fully develop their potential. It was also very exciting to see Jonathon Kozol, who was the keynote speaker, since we read his work for our classes and he has so much knowledge and experience in the field. We were also able to meet YDEV alumni from previous years and share experiences with each other and make connections. I really enjoyed this event because I got to learn about youth development in our local community, and all of the different organizations and youth workers who are involved and committed to serving our local youth. It really solidified my passion for the field, and I am very lucky and grateful that I was able to attend.

YDEV Family!

YDEV Event #1 - OBOM

OBOM, 2006

For my first YDEV event, I attended the Open Books - Open Minds family stories reception.
From their website, Open Books – Open Minds is described as "reimagining the role of the common book at Rhode Island College. Common reading programs seek to generate intellectual and social engagement throughout the campus and help to create a sense of community, increase the vitality of academic discourse, and overall improve participants' feelings about their school." OBOM began in 2006, and is a way for students, faculty, and alumni to connect through book discussions, film screenings, and share their own writing or research based on the book.

This year, the book that was chosen was The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. For the family stories reception, participants shared their stories about their family and history. I really enjoyed hearing these stories because it was a way to learn things about others in the community and Rhode Island College. Later in the semester when we watch Adichie's TEDtalk, The Danger of a Single Story. I thought back to this event and thought about the fact that everyone's past experiences and history help shape who they are, and until you get to know someone's full story, you don't have a complete understanding of who they are. This is especially important in youth work, because every child is unique and needs to be understood on an individual level.

More information about OBOM can be found here on the Rhode Island College website.