Tuesday, December 6, 2016

This is Youth Work

To me,

Youth Work and Youth Development is about empowering youth to lead in their communities and world, making their voices matter and helping them to become the best versions of themselves.  For me, youth work is about helping marginalized youth who face extreme and mild cases of oppression in our world.  To think that a child has to feel like they do not belong makes it hard for me to sleep at night.  All I want is for every youth to feel empowered, and like their voices matter.  Oppressed youth are SOOOO much more than the stereotypes they are given.  They are passionate, strong, independent, hard-working, dedicated, mature, and so on.  I have worked with many youth in oppressed populations, and there is no better feeling than to lead with such powerful young individuals.  

The goal in doing youth work is making sure that your youth have all the resources, and guidance that they need to reach their goals.  I feel as a youth worker I am helping youth lay their foundation to build a beautiful life off of.  I want their foundation to be filled with hope, knowledge, strength, resilience, love, care, and make it unique to themselves.  I want to be a support system for youth, while giving them the major role of leading where I am there in the background the whole way.  Every individual youth has their own set of skills and abilities, so making individualized connections with youth is probably the most important part of the job.  You first need to connect with youth when trying to help them grow into the human that THEY want to be.

I am a youth worker to hopefully one day create change for my youth so that their oppression turns into opportunities, so that their doubts turn into hope, so that their goals turn into reality, and so that their hard work results in change.

I read the text This Is Youth Work, and I specifically chose to focus on chapter 3.  This chapter specifically spoke to me because it illustrates the oppression that exist in our society.  Many of the youth I work with have to experience this in their everyday lives, and can relate to the stories inside of this chapter.  Thinking about that breaks my heart, and knowing that it really happens makes me even more upset.  Why do children have to be treated like dangerous criminals when they're walking to their homes??? Why should a child be harassed and embarrassed by an individual whose supposed to protect them in their community??? And most of all why should a child of color have to try so much harder and face so much many difficulties to even grow the slightest bit? 








Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Resilience

My ABSOLUTEEEE passion for Youth Work is working with youth on life and community skills.  Having them become actively involved in the politics, and family contexts of their community.  I feel it is just as, if not more, important to work on life skills with youth at any age.  School should not only be giving children an education, but actually talking about the reality of life outside of the text book.  I grew up in a community where I was involved in school politics, and knew about the changes and issues with my community that needed attention.  Families and youth in my community are always actively involved in it, and making sure that our community is being served correctly.  In inner-city areas, there can be a disconnect between the state and people.  So using the Youth to close that gap for the next generations is key to having those communities, and people in them, grow positively and become successful. 



After watching the videos on the Resilient Kids program, I feel completely aligned with their mission and vision.  They set out to teach important life skills inside of the classroom, which in turn lowered the bad behavior rates in school by 50%!  Giving youth the real tools and skills they need to be successful not only on a test or quiz, but in real life situations has worked about amazing for many of the schools that have implemented Resilient Kids in their classrooms.  I believe Resilient Kids should be mandatory for all schools across the nation.  I hope everyday as a future youth worker, that I can reach youth as effectively as Resilient Kids has. They are providing students with resilience to spring back into a positive place when they are in negative situations, and giving them tools to fight through the darkness to find (or make) the light. 

I hope to one day take this programs idea and push it even farther into fixing the actual system itself, so that the amount of negativity certain marginalized youth have to deal with is cut in half or completely ceased. 

  
 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Event #2: Open House @ RIC

Open House @ RIC

Open House at RIC was an exciting event to attend! I truly enjoyed reaching out to the new incoming freshman, and explaining the Youth Development Program.  I recall being an incoming freshman and wondering where I fit in this large array of studies.  I tried fitting into Teaching, Psychology, and Criminal Justice; however, I never felt entirely comfortable with any of these choices.  I always wanted to help youth, but not in the same contexts' that I was finding.  I wanted to help youth with actual real issues that are brought on by life, and society.  


                            Majors I took:

Psychology, it viewed individuals as almost test rats; solely looking at science and not really hitting the points that I wanted to explore.  


                  Teaching offered education and help for youth more on the foundation that I wanted to work on, but still was missing the entire picture.  I did not want to focus on just strictly the multiplication tables and ABC's.  I wanted to critically think, explore, and grow in different ways that education missed.


                    Criminal Justice major was a major that I felt least aligned with.  It focused on punishment more than rehabilitation.  I found myself arguing in each class with the professors because their view was the opposite of mine. 

During this past Open House at RIC I was more than ecstatic to introduce my real passion, Youth Development.  I worked along side my classmates and professor, Lesley Bogad.  It was very powerful, and educational watching Lesley as she was leading with myself and my classmates on Saturday.  It was cool being the student and experiencing what it is like for the youth that I will be/do work with. I was provided with the tools from Lesley, and then was able to clearly and explicitly described the program and what it entails to many freshman, and their families.  With some families, the parents seemed skeptical of what Youth Development is, and would ask me questions surrounding the relevance and importance of Youth Development. I answered those questions with the passion I have for Youth, and illustrated what my classmates and I have done that has been successful in this field.  I soon turned skeptics into believers, and touched many hearts of the incoming RIC students.  I was so adamant about explaining this major thoroughly, and making sure that I reached those students, who were like myself, giving them a place where they can make a perfect fit.  

Youth Work is not for everyone, and not everyone can work with youth.  It takes a lot of passion, patience, understanding, open-mindfulness, and love to do what Youth Development Workers do.  We do not make enough money for what we do, and we may work ridiculous hours, or be in high tense situations.  But at the end of the day this job could not be more rewarding.  You are touching the lives and souls of so many youth; helping them grow into the best versions of themselves. I have never felt more at home than I do in Youth Development, and I hope I gave a home to some of the students this past Saturday. 
   








Event #1: Youth In Action Haunted House


I am currently an intern at Youth In Action in Providence.  Being an intern there has been one of the best experiences of my entire life.  I live the words of "work with youth", and I could not be happier.  

With this concept of work with that I have learned about in my classroom and at YIA, I was able to create a Haunted House on Friday, October 28th, 2016.  This was my first real experience of working with youth on a large project.  I have already learned so much from my mentor, Pegah, but it was such a different level of learning when I was actually doing the work.  The youth brought ideas of what they envisioned for this haunted house to me, and I was pretty much the glue to the project.  They had all the pieces, and I aided in putting those pieces together.  There was such an amazing collaboration between myself and the youth I was working with.  

The haunted house ended up being a ghost theme.  Lets just say I took that theme and ran with it! Within a week myself, youth, and some of my family members constructed a haunted house in the basement of YIA for the youth and families in YIA's community.  I had youth and other volunteers strategically placed throughout the spooky basement to scare the willing victims that went in.  We ended up having around 100 youth come through the haunted house that night.  People were very scared, and the project could not have had a better outcome.  

From this haunted house I have learned so much about working with youth and what it takes to do so.  

I needed a lot of patience, time, understanding, motivation, push, creativity, and thought for this project.  I had to be patient in working with youth, and really try and see things from their perspective.  I worked extremely hard in producing their vision of what they expected for the haunted house.  Some days the youth were absent from YIA, and other days they just had a bad day and I had to refrain from bombarding them with Haunted House discussions.  It was a learning experience, and also taught me how to work closely with certain types of youth, and certain types of personalities.  

I am just grateful that our vision came through, and that I was able to successfully work WITH youth!! 












Thursday, November 3, 2016

Election Bull


This Years Election Bull

     As a non-proud member of the United States of America, I would like to display my discomfort, and issues I have with this years "election".  I feel like this election is a complete joke for starters.  The fact that we even have someone in office who has no skills for being president, and another person who has enough money to cover up her past, present, and future wrong doings makes me wonder who we even are as a country.  I tend to wonder if these rich adults (children) are taking the lives of others as seriously as myself and others I know.  This election is going to affect lives, but as to who it effects, and how negatively or positively depends, on who is in the office.  

I tend to sway more towards the democratic side, and in this election seem to agree more with Hilary than the other idiot.  However, this comes with much hesitation.  I feel completely uncomfortable and anxious about either candidate running our country.  I feel as though Hilary has lied about major major events, then to base your attacks against Trump, as being a liar, and bad person because of it is completely hypocritical.  I do not trust her in office, and I do not trust that she cares about others as much as she displays.  I have seen videos of her having young black activists being escorted out of her conferences, and now all of a sudden she is so into urban youth and helping those communities?  None of it adds up.  

As for the other disgusting/repulsive candidate, I believe he is just as bad as her, but in a blunt way.  He is the epitome of everything I fight against in my life and through my passion of social justice. He is the poster child for white supremacy and anti-blackness.   The only reason I want to vote is just so I know it will be one vote he does not receive, and one more vote that goes against him.

I feel well informed about both candidates negative impacts on our country.  I truly do not feel well informed about what they can/will positively do for America.  I have some major questions for this election, and the future of this country. I feel as though neither candidates can even understand/care to understand the lives of lower income families, and different populations that face harsh oppression.  Both come from a place of complete superiority, and supremacy.   

Questions:
1. What will happen to the low sauce-economic population? Will they be helped, will more money leave the 1% and be sprinkled into the other 99% of Americans? 

2.Will there be an end to wage gap, and will either candidates fix the minimum wage to fit the cost of living?

3. Will Hillary prove herself to be not a liar, and actually follow through with all the reform and change she promises

4. Overall, How can either really help America be "great"? 





Thursday, October 27, 2016

Nakkula & Toshalis: Context Mapping

What is Context Mapping?

Context Mapping is a concept introduced to me by Nakkula & Toshalis in the reading Identity In Context, 2010. In the short story, the counselor Mitch requests that his youth, Julian, creates a context map. Mitch is asking Julian to write down all the various spaces, and relationships with (and) within those spaces that he comes in contact with each day.  This is because those spaces, and relationships inside them will provide information on who Julian is, and how these experiences have shaped him to be that way.

Here is my Context Map 



I personally weigh heavy on the nurture side in the whole nature vs. nurture debate.  I agree with Erikson and the ways in which he believes a persons identity is formed.  I believe that context tell a lot.  If someone is growing up in a low income home where food is not hot and ready on the dinner table every night, then why wouldn't that person steal for food?? I mean yes, they are committing a crime, but look at the context of where that person is, and the spaces and relationships that they face everyday. I truly believe there is a reason, and environmental influence for all behaviors and identities.  We as humans respond to what is around us.  Our identities and self are constructed by our experiences of what the feel, see, touch, taste, and so on. This is also known as coauthoring; when others and environments help shape your own identity.  Experiences with individuals and spaces creates the "person in personality" (Nakkula & Toshalis, 2010). 

In Erikson's model there are four different stages our identity can experience.These stages can go in any order and repeat in anyway. 

1.Achieved Identity:When a person has experienced crisis and has committed and accepted that crisis and is happy within this context.  The crisis is not something that individual can't handle, it actually is something they enjoy and are committed to.  Have found what makes them, them.
2. Foreclosed Identity: This stage is when an individuals identity is chosen for them almost.  The individual is pressured into committing to something that they've never experienced or had any form of crisis in. It is like when a child takes over a family business, they are committed before they can even experience that context to see if it fits their identity. 
3. Moratorium: Moratorium stage is when an individuals identity has experienced a context with crisis and no commitment.  In this stage an individual faces certain roles, beliefs, behaviors, and relationships where they hesitate from committing to.
4. Diffuse Identity: This stage of identity is when an individual is hesitant from experiencing any crisis or commitment. This is when someone is anxious, or feels anxiety towards experiencing new crisis and committing to one thing.  this individual is always changing and trying to fit the immediate context they are in, instead of actively exploring and committing to a particular identity. 




  

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Ideology Horoscope

  Ideology Horoscope 

I always believe in horoscopes; there is something about the way in which they describe life events, feelings, possibilities, even characteristics, that I feel I can connect to. As I assume everyone else who believes in them does so too.  This Ideology Horoscope is one that I feel hit the nail on the head.  Prior to finding the results of the test and seeing which ideology I was, I had pre-assumptions of what I might be.  I assumed I would be in a category that involves empowering youth, and the concept of leading with.  I intern now at Youth In Action and this is one of their many beliefs about youth.  The key to me is to work with youth, empower them to be leaders so they can reach out to their communities and possibly beyond to make positive social change.  I do not believe in just giving youth the skills and abilities to just function in society and blend in.  I want to empower youth to be different, think outside the box, be bold, be confident, shoot for the stars, be the change the world needs, and most of all spread love and compassion.

So after adding up all my scores, I saw what boxes I fit into on the ideology horoscope.  I was exactly half and half with positive youth development, and critical youth development

       I was not surprised by this.  Those two rows encompass who I am as a youth worker, and how I see youth, families, and communities in the world.  I truly believe in growth, and working with a strengths base theory.  Everyone has a strength and can accomplish something, and giving someone confidence and power to know that, in my opinion, is the best thing you can do for an individual, and community.  I feel as though those two rows also represent what my internship, YIA, is functioning for.  





Friday, September 30, 2016

My Story

My Story

I wanted to fit in, I always thought I could.
I tried to change myself physically, no one understood,
What is was like to be me, and to feel like an outcast.
Being me, was being the fattest girl in class.
My mom begged me to stop eating bad,
Tried explaining to me how my weight gain will gives other kids ammunition to make me sad.
But I told my mom how hard it was for me,
I loved food and it filled me with glee.
But she was relentless and put me on every diet,
None of them worked because only in front of her would I try it.
Behind the scenes I would eat beyond your wildest dreams.
Food never judged me, it never made me cry.
Food was there, standing by me, and was literally on my sides.
No one understood my situation,
My mom was the girl in school who was prom queen and wore bikinis on vacation.
I felt like she hated me, and
I was the daughter she never wanted.
Nothing about me could be flaunted.
But she loved me with all of her heart,
She was so proud of her daughter who was oh so smart.
I could write an essay, or pass any test,
But at the end of the day I still felt like a pest.
Because I could never fit in, like everyone wanted me too.
My best friends dropped me because I wasn’t cool.
I didn’t wear Abercrombie, or fit into the tiny jean skirts.
All I could wear is whatever didn’t make me look like I was going to burst.
However these experiences built me into the woman I am today,
I still struggle with my weight, but I finally can look in the mirror and say okay.
With a half smile, and maybe a tear in my eye,
But with these life experiences I will make sure that no other child lives a story like mine.  
Written by: Ilana Tirocchi




This is my life story, its been written by me and many others in my life... whats yours? 




Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Construction of Adolescence- Nakkula

Ten words/concepts that are confusing or contribute to the major concepts of the text:
1. Maligned: did not know the word.
2. "...frightening for Danielle since it exposes what she feels is the lack of credibility or cultural capital she needs to interact with him in a way that feels comfortable.": I did not understand what the concept of this statement was.  Was she trying to say she doesn't understand him as a person so she cannot communicate comfortably with him? I feel like if that is the case, than this statement is very important to the chapter. 
3. "Unwilling or Unable to simply talk to her about his fears...": This is a powerful piece of the text, because it shows how and why many students act out in the classroom. It is more than just bad behaviors, there are reasons behind it that her or she is unwilling or unable to share.  
4. "...they are constructing implicit theories about their classroom, adults in their lives, their peers, and, by extension, forming theories about themselves.": important to the major concept of this text about how experiences with others shape our own lives. 
5. Tested Knowledge: unsure of its meaning. 
6. Pathologized: I'm sorry, what? confusing word alert!   
7. "As school-based professionals we are active contributors to the co-construction of adolescents in our work": I think this concept is key to the text, and also KEY for all types of educators to know.  
8. "They must imagine who or what they might become, based on who they are or hope to be, and in doing so they must experiment with getting there.": this is important to the concept of the text about adolscents constructing themselves through trial and error. 
9. "...ultimately, however, the meaning they make of their experiences is theirs, regardless of how it may match or conflicts with ours.": Very important to the text and to understanding this co-construction concept. The youth and the adult may have different or similar views of a situation, but how that youth interprets it has nothing to do with how the adult may interpret the situation. 
10. Work Relationally: a word and concept I feel many educators need to understand and use in and outside of the classroom. 





10 People that have Co-Constructed My Life: 
1. Mom: positively & negatively
2. Dad: +, -
3. Brandon: +
4. Lauren: +
5. Bullies in school: +, -
6. Lesley Bogad: + 
7. Cousins:+, -
8. Cindie: +
9. Jared: +, -
10. Mrs. Flynn: +; from a negative situation

I chose to speak about Lesley Bogad and how she has greatly impacted my life and who I am/hope to be.  I feel as though she has had one of the greatest impacts in my life to date.  I may not see Lesley everyday, and I may not speak to her all the time, but she has provided a complete safe space and person for me in my life.  Lesley has really laid out a path for my thinking style to walk on, and has connected with me more than any other educator or person in my life.  I feel like when I watch and listen to Lesley that she is the person I aim to be one day, and she is everything I have wanted to be.  She has shown me that it is okay to be different, think differently, and embrace differences.  I was always shot down my whole life for being different, looking different, and thinking so much more maturely (as many people would phrase it).  The reason I was thinking maturely is because I was thinking about not just myself, as many selfish adolescents do, but I was always thinking about others and their feelings.  No one understood me, and said I was too sensitive, or just a baby.  When learning  and discussing concepts and topics with Lesley I finally had that moment of relief.  Relief that I finally found where my puzzle piece fit.  I finally felt at home inside of her classroom and presence.  Lesley has a way of making youth (that includes myself) feel comfortable and free.  I do not feel one once of judgment when I am around her, and she embodies everything I've dreamt and hoped of being as an adult.  She has taught me more than any other teacher in my entire life, and everyday she keeps shaping my brain in amazing ways with her styles and methods of teaching (along with the content we learn).  I always felt like I was lost and wandering alone, but you made me feel like I was just wandering on my own path to meet you in college.  I hope you can help me more and continue in co-constructing my story with me. Thank you Lesley for being the LARGEST positive impact in my life.  I am ever so grateful for you, and I ALWAYS tell EVERYONE that but you, so here it is; THANK YOU <3  

  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Color Brave

Be COLOR BRAVE

The feeling of invisibility is powerful.  It is also painful, harrowing, and isolating.  I remember in middle school and the beginning of high school feeling exactly this way.  I was invisible to my peers.  I did not look like the popular girl in school, and my peers knew it.  They never said anything, but just their body language was enough.  I could read their faces and know what they were thinking.  They isolated me; forced me to create my own bubble and world because I was not allowed to engage in theirs.  This invisibility ended once I realized that I was worthy enough to employ in the world everyone was kicking me out of.  

Now imagine this world extending beyond the high school context. Imagine a world your hesitantly allowed to engage in, being right outside your front door. For Africans in America, and other minorities, this is their everyday life.  There is a "popular girl and boy" in society.  They are the skin color white, tall, fit, thin, blue eyes, beautiful long flowing hair; everything that Africans are not.  African and other minorities feel every single day what I experienced for 5 years in school.  Mellody Hobson in her Ted Talk Color Blind, or Color Brave?, illustrates her experiences of how society has tried to push her into her own bubble.  And how they continually are marginalizing other Africans and minorities in our world.  She explained the popular boys in society (white males) only make up 30% of our population, however they make up 70% of all corporate board seats.  How is this possible? This is possible because we are ignoring, and choosing to ignore, the over qualified people of color that can fill these positions.  Hobson argues this point, because it is a quantifiable fact, and a real statistic in America.  These are not facts she is making up, but reality that she is just shining a bright light on.  This oppression is the foundation for invisibility.  The popular kids are not allowing Africans or other minorities to engage in their fun; forcing them to create their own worlds and means of making money.  Whether that may be selling drugs or joining a gang to achieve some power in their environment, it is ultimately the "cool kids" (whites) who have pressured the "uncool kids" to do this.  I was pushed to create my own kind of power in school by getting good grades.  I was lucky enough to push my anger and deprivation of power into something positive and beneficial, because I felt powerful getting better grades than the cool kids, but in this societal context, even good education is not always granted to people of color.  So their way of breaking out of the invisibility is by creating their own noise, power, and world.  Hobson also explains that color blindness is not real, and I agree.  Color blindness is just a way for us to ignore real issues with race and avoid any conflict, or debate about it.  People see color, bottom line.  If you have eyeballs in the front of your head that work correctly, than you can see the difference in skin tones.  So why not embrace those tones? Embrace the "difference" and talk about it.  Make it aware so that when an African child watches T.V., or even just leaves their home, they see themselves in the world around them.  Allow them to KNOW that they CAN participate in this world, and that they CAN and ARE just as worthy to participate in it than the "cool kids" that are making them feel otherwise. 

I feel as though Youth in Actions mission is to reduce the amount of youth that feel powerless in this world.  They are on a mission to empower, and inspire these oppressed youth to fill in those board chairs, and to be represented in corporate America, and every other institution or context where whites are over represented. YIA also educates their youth on how to empower their peers and communities to feel worthy enough know they are important. YIA is providing future generations with the tools necessary to leave their imprint in this world we so forcefully push them out of. 








Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Youth In Action: Empowering Youth To Lead


Youth In Action is a nonprofit that takes a look at working with, and helping youth under a completely different light than what our society is used to.  There is always a power dynamic when it comes to a youth and their superior.  Whether that superior might be their parents, teachers, mentors, officers, etc. That dynamic is always where the youth holds slim to no power, while that superior holds most of it.  In Youth in Action, this idea of power running vertically is unheard of.  At YIA the power runs horizontally, where "youth and adults are growing together" (YIA, pg. 49).  The Idea for YIA is to not have the youth be lectured at, but to raise discussion to learn.    





Just as of recently I have interviewed with YIA for my upcoming internship. In the text when it explains the environment and feel of this four story house/building it is correct.  It isn't your typical building you would expect.  It has a lounge area for youth and adults to hangout in, it has a full kitchen where meals are made for events, or just cause.  It also has a large space, which would be a living room for most, that has transformed into a place where controversial topics are disputed and discussed in a large circle.  There are many more important rooms that I will learn much more about during my internship there.  But even visiting for the first time for my interview, I felt comfortable in this space as soon as I walked through the front door.  Even the porch outside had a small garden of fresh vegetables that the youth and organization have planted and grown.  There are pictures of the past events and youth leaders all over the walls, in rememberance of all the empowering youth that have made a difference in their lives and communities. (Also pictures of current YIA members) 






At my interview I was told a specific model that YIA use as of today.  They have three stages to their program.  The first stage involves getting to know the youth, where they think hey stand in the world and in our social justice system.  YIA gets to know the youth inside and out, the same way youth get to know every aspect of the adults lives.  I am not sure of exactly what happens in this stage, again hopefully I will learn much more as my internship goes on.  In the second stage, youth are able to go into the communities and schools where they do workshops for other youths.  This is the real empowering part, where the youth are now completely leading certain projects. There is also a third stage for those youth that want more, for the youth that want to change policy and go way farther. And throughout each stage, youth and adults are working side by side to help youth build these great workshops and build the confidence to facilitate them. 





When I was younger I never had an older role model to help me feel like I was an important person in this world. I was so smart, and I never spoke in class because I felt that what I had to say was always wrong, or not important.  The teachers would not embrace discussion, but yearn for the exact correct answer they needed and the move on.  So I was always worried that my "exact correct" answer was never correct enough.  YIA takes that fear away from youth and replaces it with confidence.  I wish programs such as YIA were available for me, but I will make sure that one day it will be available for all youth that need this partnership and strength to feel like their answer or responses to questions and ideas are always their own version of "exact and correct", and that they have the confidence to say it. 

I love everything that YIA does every single day for youth in Providence, and I cannot wait to become a part of this team.



One day, cohort 4, this thank you will be to all of us! #believeinyouth

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Youth Work Introduction Response



Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with this idea of equality.  As a child I couldn't put it into words, I didn't know how to say or write down this internal feeling of equality and social justice. My mom was a teacher in Providence, and I would compare her classrooms to those of my own in Hope Highland Elementary School in Western Cranston.  I did not come from a place where everyone had millions of dollars in their bank accounts, but I came from an area where DCYF and school social workers were never even heard/spoke of.  I couldn't understand this difference, why is was there, what it meant, and why there were differences when I was a kid just like the ones in my mothers classroom.  

That was a brief history insight as to why I am so passionate about youth work and empowering youth to be the best they can be.  Its been an internal drive for me since the age of four.  In this reading of Youth Work by Jason Wood, Sue Westwood, and Gill Thompson (2015) they played out the idea and meaning of a youth worker in many different aspects.  This reading allows people to truly understand what a youth worker is/does and how powerful a youth worker can be in a youths life. Wood, Westwood, and Thompson (2015) discuss characteristics of youth workers, and what a youth worker must be to be effective and successful for youth.

1. Teaching an informal curriculum

  • This idea of teaching youth as a youth worker, is teaching more life skills through activities and conversations.  Teaching them alternative ways to handling problems, responding and not reacting to situations, and helping them form a better path of life to lead. 
2. Youth work as a social practice

  • Having effective conversations and activities with youth in a group setting I believe is key to working with youth.  It is in my opinion more effective because the youth have people to relate to, especially when they might be already having feelings of loneliness or isolation.  With "at-risk" youth, working in a group setting might be beneficial to breaking barriers that are formed from gang association or other issues.  
3. Challenging Inequality

  • Inequality is everywhere in society, in everything we do in everyday life.  Schools even have a lot of inequality within their curriculum.  As a youth worker, social justice should be a key in guiding and aiding youth.  Many of the youth I will be working with will feel some sort of injustice, and it is my duty as a youth worker to help them battle this injustice, and get the equality they deserve.   
4. Young people should CHOOSE to be involved

  • Many programs youth feel compelled to go to, but choosing to be involved in something that is foreign to youth.  Some may not want to be at the program they are standing at all, but as a youth worker I must make that space be a place where the youth want to go to instead of have to.  
5. Strengthen Youths Voice

  • Giving youth a voice is one of the most powerful impacts a youth worker can have on a child.  For me, I think it is the most important thing a youth worker can do.  Giving youth a voice and empowering them is my goal in the future.  
6. Youth work is a welfare practice

  • Doing youth work can be a welfare type of practice, but keep in mind to always show youth that we are not fixing their problems, but empowering them to be even better.
7. Holistically working with Youth
  • Youth may have issues that seem to be "fixed" by fixing the immediate problem you see, but as I've learned in the past, it is much more than just that immediate problem.  There are deeper problems rooted int he lives of the youth that we help, and it is our job as a youth worker to find out those imbedded issues and work them out with youth so that they can overcome the real issue. 
All of these characteristics were always values of mine.  To stay open minded, open hearted and guide youth in ways that mainstream education cannot.  I have not been able to effectively use my tools and work directly as a youth worker like I want to be doing so far, but from the small amount of exposure and experience I have had, I believe I've been being a true youth worker.  In the classrooms I have worked in I have done more of the mainstream education, and not informal education.  Even when I was working in the classrooms in Providence, when a child was upset I was more interested in  the child that was crying than the important math equation I was trying to teach.  I am excited to use the tools I have been taught in youth development, and truly become all of these characteristics of a Youth Worker.