Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Positive Youth Development

Positive Youth Development is an approach to working with young people that focuses on their development and strengths instead of their problems or deficits. Based on emerging research into human resiliency and brain development, the principles and practices of the Positive Youth Development model have become a recognized best practice for youth programs and an increasingly accepted method of re-thinking our approach with young people. At Janus Youth Programs Positive Youth Development informs nearly every aspect of our work with street-entrenched youth & young adults. In this spirit, and thanks to the generous support of the Hoover Family Foundation, we have implemented a series of youth-driven workshops and field trips over the past year in an effort to build positive adult relationships and self-esteem and to draw our young clients out of the "comfort zone" of street life and low expectations. First we created a suggestion box which became a prominent fixture at our weekly stationary outreach program Portland: Outreach & Engagement. The suggestion box was designed to inspire participants to identify topics of interest and take ownership of the planning process and workshop agendas. Once ideas were selected from the box, youth were encouraged to co-facilitate workshops according to their individual interests, skills, and enthusiasm. At every opportunity staff fostered an environment in which young people felt safe in their vulnerability of taking on leadership roles, making mistakes, and accepting new challenges. This was astoundingly clear at our recent Stencil Art Workshop! We have documented extensive "measurable outcomes" and exceeded our own expectations in terms of successful results, but the photos and beautiful artwork we captured at this workshop speak louder than the reports. Please take a look at the following photos and feel free to drop a line if you are interested in implementing similar workshops at your own agency. We'd be happy to further share with you our experiences.

The workshop was co-facilitated by Rhythm Kenaley-Lundberg, a 13 year-old 8th grade student who volunteered his time and expertise to demonstrate how stencils are created. Thanks, Rhythm!

The first part of the process consisted of brainstorming ideas and thinking about "negative space"...


"Matt" co-facilitated the workshop along with Rhythm. "Matt" is a very artistic 21 year-old who recently moved into permanent housing through Janus Youth Programs' Clean & Sober Housing Program!

Rhythm finishes cutting out his cowboy stencil...

Outside on our building's Youth Mural Wall, Rhythm lines up his stencil and covers it with spraypaint


Matt's very first stencil is a resounding success!

Matt decides to attempt a multi-colored design and consults with Rhythm on the best approach...

It turned out beautifully!

"J" sets up his stencil...

The finished piece!

It was an amazing afternoon!
Look for more postings on our workshops and Positive Youth Development soon...

No comments: