As we gather with friends and family on this Thanksgiving, we cherish this moment and thank you for your passion, dedication, and support of Youth Development Network and our cause. Guided by our core values, we remain dedicated to our collective mission of creating more places and spaces for people to thrive, succeed, and live a life of dignity.
As we reflect on the things we are thankful for, our core values have been our anchor and will continue to be our guiding light as we move forward.
We believe in the Power of Relationships. The work before us cannot be done by one organization, one individual, or one way. In order to reach our mission, we must come together under the banner of a collective effort. The impact will be greater together.
We believe in Social Justice. We work to develop people and communities to build diversity and equity amongst all. We celebrate and appreciate that the differences that make us up as individuals, is what makes us stronger as a community.
We believe in Change. Led by a combination of research and curiosity, we continue to drive change towards compassionate cultures and climates. We all have our part to play in creating a society where all can thrive, succeed, and live a life of dignity. We believe small changes make big differences.
We believe in Fun. Changing minds and lives requires dedication. Not only do we show up, we also set the tone. Having fun changes the work from what we have to do to what we want to do!
We're dedicated to being youth developers and changemakers. We ask you to use your gifts as we continue on this collective journey to make our world a better place. As Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz recently stated, “Take what you’re good at, and what you truly enjoy, and lend your services to the causes you care most about. ‘Cause we can’t, and we won’t, and we don’t stop.”
Wishing you all the best from all of us at YDN
A Sudden, Clear, and Quick Reflection: My Top 7 Epiphanies as a Strengths-Based Coach in the Field of Human/Youth Development During the Last 10+ Years
1) My curiosity is appreciated more than my certainty. The questions I ask are more powerful than my answers. This epiphany makes the next six even more important.
2) Check my head! Suspending assumptions about people and situations makes me a more approachable coach. I love being surprised by who a person truly is; their hopes, fears, vulnerabilities and concerns. In order to do that, I have to truly put aside the things that may cloud my judgment (title, first impression, clothing, you know- the silly materialistic stuff).
3) I use a q-tip before each coaching session. My clients pay decent money for my service. If my ears are not ready to 100% listen I'm not giving my best to the person(s) expecting my best. Everyone can fake listen, but as a coach I never want to be asked the dreaded words "Are you listening to me?".
Next 4 Epiphanies
What epiphanies have you had on your coaching journey? I would love to hear from you.
Top 5 Things After School Youth Developers Can Learn from
They were wrong- it did more than reach students. It grabbed the unreachable and invited them to reach for the stars. It found the lost and gave them a place to call home. As my brothers from LA would say "afterschool was about fighting crime and saving lives." Time, data and thousands of testimonials show us that both hip-hop and expanded learning are here to stay and lead the way.
Keep reading as I share with you the Top 5 Things After School Youth Developers Can Learn from Hip-Hop Culture.
Are you also like millions of other people who did everything I just mentioned and then got your thunder stolen because you didn’t know what to do next to make the strengths buzz turn into a new more powerful way of living your life and optimizing your work place? Me too!
Well almost… Continue reading to discover some very simple, practical, and effective ways on how my team and I have created a culture that practices the Strengths-based language and approach.
How many times has someone told you that you sucked at doing something? That you felt you were just going through the motions because you had to? How many times have you felt discouraged because you couldn’t accomplish what you set your mind to?
The YDN team believes in the GALLUP StrengthsFinder tool because we feel strongly about looking at people through an asset-based lens. An asset-based approach is a way of thinking and behaving. Instead of looking at what people can’t offer or are deficient in, we see greater reward when we focus on the unique skills and knowledge someone has to offer and fill a roll within the greater team.
Example: You hire someone to install a chandelier in your home, but you end up finding out that person doesn’t know how to complete that specific project. You start to dialogue with him about what he’s great at and inevitably build a RELATIONSHIP (Wow, Deja Vu) with him. You figure out he’s a master lighting artisan and can use accent lighting so every crevice of the room can be lit perfectly with a quick snap of your fingers. Are you really going to feel bummed out you didn’t get that chandelier you were hoping for?
So to get back to my realization; people, including teachers, have always told me that writing isn’t my strongest attribute and I should work on it. I’ve come to the realization that writing, more specifically, academic writing isn’t my strongest attribute and I don’t need to work on it. I am perfectly okay with my conversational, casual way of writing because it suits this settings I write in. You wouldn’t ask Bruce Lee to forget his martial art style of Jeet Kune Do (The Way of the Intercepting Fist) and focus on MMA style because that’s an area he needs to improve. No, we regard Bruce Lee as probably the greatest martial artist there ever was BECAUSE he focused on his strengths.
This is not an invitation to drop out of school or to forgo your weaknesses. This is an invitation to re-evaluate your life, more specifically your strengths and weaknesses. Even more specific, are you using your strengths (what you are good at) in the right setting? Have you found an environment where you are appreciated for what you do best? After all, we are more efficient and happier when we love the job we do.
Tips on Running an Engaging Meeting
It’s happened to all of us. The meeting we’ve been dreading all week. The meeting where we have to pretend like we’re listening, try to stay awake and pretend like we’re not drawing cute cats.
Continue reading for some quick tips to create a more fun, more engaging environment where your meetings can take place.
Now you’re ready to create engaging meetings. Get out there and rid the world of mundane meetings! Comment below with some of your favorite tips to run fun and engaging meetings.
Today, we are highlighting and reminiscing about River City High School.
River City HS started their school climate enhancement journey 3 years ago. Thanks to the generous funding support of the Trustees of the Arata Brothers Trust, we brought our Youth Development Institute (YDI) to the high school. Our YDI focuses on how adults can create a safe environment where young people can effectively make a change in their community for the better. Ultimately our goals from completing a YDI are that participants can:
- create quality environments for youth
- make sure that youth receive the essential experience now that will contribute to their development into successful and healthy adults.
From the Youth Development Institute we proposed that to sustain the climate shift a team at River City HS needed to be trained on how to lead their very own YDIs. We call this process “Train the Trainer”. 6 teachers from River City HS volunteered to lead this effort and become certified YDI Train-the-Trainers for the River City High School Campus. Train the Trainer trains (say that 5 times fast) people on how to deliver relevant and engaging meetings for students and staff while paying respects to the original content. Of course trainers are allowed to put their own flair on the delivery, but the final goals are usually the same.
For the past 2 years, the YDIs at River City High School were facilitated by River City HS teachers with YDN trainers in the background to provide support. We want to send our deepest gratitude to these YDI Certified trainers that are consistently creating an environment where change comes from the participating experts in the room. In this instance, the experts are the staff, teachers and the students that spend 6-8 hours a day on campus.
We are excited to see where this year’s YDI takes the staff and students at River City High School as they continue their journey with YDN to enhance the campus environment for future generations to come.
Time and time again, life takes over our schedule and we forget to take time to reflect on what we have accomplished. Let’s take a step back and reflect on the Twin Rivers Unified School District’s (TRUSD) 2013-2014 school year.
Over the last couple years, Twin Rivers has decided to put an emphasis on youth voice and choice from the students in their district. That’s when the YDN team partnered with Twin Rivers to facilitate The Student Leadership Program. The Student Leadership Program is a year long commitment from high schools and middle schools and the leaders from their sites to identify an issue at their school and create an action plan to change their school sites for the better. If you’re looking for the jargony goals, students will:
- Learn to identify realistic change in their sphere of influence and strategize for success
- Troubleshoot each other’s efforts through a positive and supportive learning community
- Learn to effectively advocate for the issues and needs of their fellow students.
The neat part of The Student Leadership Program is that young people decide what issue to focus on. There is no top-down authority from the teachers or administrators that tell exactly what these young people should be working on. Sometimes as adults, we like to think we know it all. In fact, sometimes the experts in the room are the young people.
Schools all over the Twin Rivers district pick an issue to tackle. The issues ranged from bullying to drugs on campus to teacher-student relationships. It took a whole year for students to identify the issue and present any solutions they are planning to implement.
As a final celebratory event, we took these leaders to a summer camp and called it Twin Rivers Unified School District Student Leadership Camp w/ Youth Development Network. Long name, I know. This camp was a 4-day/3-night trip to the Santa Cruz mountains at Happy Valley Conference Center. It was the beginning of their journey into the world of Strengths and a continuation of building their leadership abilities.
Day 1 of camp is what we like to call the “ME” component, where campers start to understand their strengths and how they relate to their lives. This day is designed to get the campers to start to reflect what their Strengths are and who they use them in their everyday lives. We move onto day 2 and day 3 of camp where campers start to think about “WE.” This day is where campers start to think about their strengths in relation to other’s strengths. Day 2 and day 3 are usually the high emotional days where we take the campers on a journey of self reflection and letting go of any negative words people have instilled into our minds. This day also has high ropes course where campers can start to visualize their strengths in action. Day 4 starts to look at the “COMMUNITY” part of camp and how campers can use their strengths to make a difference in their community.
As we move forward, it is important to recognize that the Twin Rivers Unified School District is dedicated to get the voice their students and creating better leaders for the future. We want to applaud this district for the continuation of next year’s Student Leadership Program.