Key insights from additional research
We interviewed the following people at the YMCA, focusing on changemaking-related programs offered by their associated Y:
- James Brown (Director of Creative Youth Development at Homewood-Brushton Branch YMCA)
- Kyande Sanders (Youth Program and Day Camp Director at Ann Arbor YMCA)
- Amanda Trask (Senior Director of Youth Development at the Old Colony YMCA)
- Denby Holloman (Teen Programs Director at YMCA of the Triangle)
- Trish Kitchell (Vice President of Youth Development at the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati)
- Nikkey Blackman (Director of Program Engagement at Kentucky YMCA Youth Association)
- We read articles related to how to encourage youth changemaking and past occurrences of changemaking by youth.
Insight 1: Youth want to work with other youth on topics of their choice, but programs on topics of their choice are sometimes not easily accessible.
- “Young people are looking for something to do…Not lecture-oriented, hands-on…Basically things they already have experience with (they have to do less learning/research about)... and anything with hands-on learning” – James Brown, Homewood YMCA.
- “Programs have to be dynamic… Don't repeat projects or activities- feels repetitive…tailor lesson plans to keep kids engaged…Music program has been the strongest - spoke the language before coming here - young people have written music before, coming in with some prior knowledge…lots of potential” – James Brown, Homewood YMCA.
- “Students who are underprivileged are likely to have less experiences and activities that they can write on the application. In order to recruit these students in need, it is important to recruit youth in informal ways, such as phone calls or social media instead of making them write applications.” — Nikkey Blackman, Director of Program Engagement at Kentucky YMCA Youth Association
Insight 2: Youth want and benefit from a lack of adult intervention.
- “Youth should be creators of content not consumers of content… Youth (up to age 25) are looking for something interesting to do without adult intervention… Youth learn skills (media tools (photoshop, graphic design), Youth are in ownership… Empower them to use technical skills to convey their perspective” – James Brown, Homewood YMCA
- “We have a team leadership program for youth. Schools identify the youth as candidates if they are worried about them transitioning into high schools and through the program they are able to gain leadership and job skills as well as serve as mentors for younger children. From there, they can be invited to serve on the Advisory council. These kids have never been asked to be in a leadership role before and giving them these opportunities allows them to thrive.” — Amanda Trask, Senior Director of Youth Development at the Old Colony YMCA
Insight 3: Seeing the impact of their efforts and being provided with positive feedback encourages continued participation among youth.
- “How to Encourage Youth to Volunteer: Show them the genuine purpose behind serving. Make sure teenagers understand the impact of volunteering by explaining how the work makes a difference… By showing them the purpose behind volunteering, teenagers will feel more encouraged and engaged… [also] Provide positive feedback, affirmation and recognition. Recognizing the teenager’s efforts… encourage them to come back and continue volunteering.” - Secondary Research