Healthy Endings

Never underestimate the power of youth work.  It’s a way of working with young people that, at its core, is about meaningful relationships, relationships defined by clear boundaries, which seek to engage, motivate and inspire.

ImageI have been priveleged to work with The London Youth Involvement Project for the last year with a group of remarkable young people.  Sadly, that work is coming to an end as the permananent project officer is returning to to take over, the fantastic Nicola.  We often fail to recognise the importance of “healthy” endings.  With this in mind our ending of this phase of the project was to have a day out enjoying each other’s company and challenging ourselves with some exciting activities including the dreaded “Leap of Faith”.  We shared a bbq and  each young person chose a card at random to keep to remind them of our time working together, along the following lines.  “Fun, your guidance is to take time to enjoy yourself.  Relax and find your sense of humour.  Treat things lightly.  Fun brings lightness of spirit, and the most difficult situations can be eased if you see the funny side of things, so cultivate a sense of the ridiculous.

The work has reminded me of the value of frames of reference.  And a vital one is to have an understanding of the importance of healthy attachments including the making and ending of them.  Bowlby has written widely on this and it is a key theoretical component of “That Can Be Me”.

Remember the importance of, and pay attention to, positive endings.



Building Partnerships for Youth Program Assessment Tool

You might have noticed that I’m a bit obsessed with finding ways that we can measure and improve the impact of our work with young people.

In the search for easy to use tools I’ve come across this one from an American organisation, Building Partnerships for Youth, a partnership between a youth development organisation (4-H) and the University of Arizona.  They argue that:

Research has shown that a youth development approach to programming for young people 9-13 can have profound impacts on a variety of outcome areas including improved academic performance, increased citizenship, higher rates of college attendance, reduced substance abuse, violence and sexual risk behaviors.

And suggest there are 21 domains of youth development that programmes should aspire to cover, and that their self-assessment tool helps programme managers to look at where their programmes are strong and where they might need development.

The assessment is easy to complete and leads to a report which includes:

  • Sample youth activities
  • Helpful web links
  • Relevant research
  • Suggested programme models to explore

If you want to explore it further then this is the link to the Building Partnerships for Youth Program Assessment Tool.