More than a dozen Coalition members gathered on August 18, 2015 to address a shared challenge and generate solutions in this month's Master Minds Circle on Reaching Youth at Promise. Three questions were asked of the group to collectively answer the bigger question; "How do you get programs and services to youth who may slip through the cracks?"
Master Minds Circle participants started by acknowledging in what context they knew youth at promise. (Youth at promise was used instead of "at-risk-youth" in the spirit focusing on the potential of every young person.) Their answers ranged from their own family, friends and children to youth participants/clients of the following: La Plata Youth Services, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Club of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, SafeCare Colorado, DeNier Detention Center, schools, 4-H, after school clubs, treatment programs, and ALATEEN, a youth led support group for teens affected by an adult's alcoholism.
Insight: Given the right support, any child can turn into a resilient young person.
Participants identified three main ways they reach youth:
Referrals from: The Grief Center, family court, school/teachers, School Resource Officers, parents, Summit program at Durango High School, DeNier, Child Protective Services and SMART Team (School Multidisciplinary Assessment Review Team).
Outreach: Fort Lewis College, Facebook (specifically tag other youth serving organizations and ask them to share the image), newspaper classified ads, flyers in youth friendly locations like ice cream, skate and other shops.
Services: Removing barriers of participation i.e. lack of transportation. Another example was the Durango Arts Center scholarship fund which gave $6,000 in scholarships this summer for performing arts and other arts center programs. Texting (not email or calls+voicemail) is crucial for consistent communication. Focus on the positive and include self-care. Young people are interested in making money so offer paid compensation and/or explain how the skills they develop in the program can lead to employment skills and resume building. FOOD! (A good attraction for any age human!)
It can be very intimidating for a young person to be called into a conference with lots of adults in attendance i.e. school principal, therapist, counselor etc. so having one on ones is important for youth relationship-building. Kids experience unfair treatment and can be hurt by remarks that come from community at large and need support to gain coping/responding skills.
Fun and engaging activities translate into kids telling their friends to come to program. If you are creating right atmosphere, they will come back. Peer leadership and peer to peer communication works best to get the message across to youth.
Insight: Never about me without me.
Insight: It's important to ensure partners who make referrals understand what your agency offers and can accurately describe those services to youth and their families.
Here are a few of the success stories shared:
Keys to High School Success reached 200+ middle school boys transitioning to high school and the whole day is about showing them their community cares about them.
La Plata Youth Services held a summer program this year and is helping with transportation including outreach to Bayfield. We engage our community with youth in the summer program. The more we can be welcoming and let kids know we are watching them in a positive way i.e. we see and care about you. We have snacks at the office so kids can come in and grab a snack during the day if they are passing by.
Durango Art Center provides enrichment curriculum that builds skills in problem solving, self-expression, boundaries about materials, and reassuring youth it’s ok if their art materials end up in the recycle bin as it's about the process more than the product. Staff is really proud of the thoughtful education programs at the art center. Reminder about Dumpster Beautification Project with Debra Greenblatt. There is way less tagging going on in community on dumpsters now as the art is respected and not vandalized.
Big Brothers Big Sisters do one on one check-ins with "Littles" that gains deeper responses from youth they work with.
“No two minds ever come together without thereby ceating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind” said Napeolen Hill author of Think and Get Rich. Master Minds Group came from 1900s and the Think and Grow Rich book for business. Nonprofits still have a business aspect to survive. The way it works is simple: someone picks issue/challenge and sends it to firstname.lastname@example.org the Master Minds Session and then participants go round robin with ideas to address challenge.
Next Master Minds Circle is October 20th from 11:30 – 1pm at the same location 175 Mercado St. (Three Springs Sales Office conference room, upstairs). You and anyone interested in being a part of community dialogue and solutions are welcome. Bring your brown bag lunch, chocolate provided.