Thursday, June 26, 2008

Youth Empowerment Program

I pursued a degree in Human Services because of my unfaltering concern for the wayward ways of today’s youth and its affect on our communities and our society’s future. I have seen first hand on how the moral decay of today’s society has affected our youthful populations and I feel that my becoming a Human Service worker will be able to result in positive changes in our communities and therefore our communities’ futures.

The personal goals that I set for myself for the final term insured successful completion and implementation of the Youth Empowerment Program project. One of my goals was to use each day as a learning tool to make the next day a better one. Another one of my goals was to empower the children in the Youth Empowerment Program through the seminars that my teammates and I conducted. My final goal was to use the lessons learned from this experience to make this program better next year and start new programs that will empower the youth as well as others.
Each day that my fellow group members and I, primarily Sharkea, Jo Ann, and myself, conducted a seminar, I learned a vital lesson to use for future implementation in the next seminar or another community project. Even when the seminar did not produce the results that we envisioned, there was an incident or an occurrence that took place that I learned from and was able to implement into utilization at a future date. Using experiences such as the ones that took place in the seminar made me a better group facilitator and moderator. I could have easily looked at such experiences as failures, but to learn from them and adapt made me better every time a seminar was conducted.

Empowering the youth though the seminars that were conducted through the Youth Empowerment Program was another one of my goals. Each Youth Empowerment Program seminar taught vital life lessons to the youth so that they could navigate through this voyage called life. In the seminars, the speakers gave empowering speeches and involved the youth in these speeches by utilizing activity therapy techniques which are fun and enriching. The children enjoy themselves at these seminars and they learned at the same time. Through media, the children are more susceptible to information than if they were just being spoken too. In this day and time, to teach, one would have to approach it in a unique and innovative way. A normal teaching approach can not compete with the constant bombardment of stimulus that typical media delivers such as in television, movies, and video games.

I used the lessons I learned through my involvement in the Youth Empowerment Program to start other community projects. I am currently working on an Empowerment Speech Program which will utilize a multimedia approach to teach middle school aged children important life lessons. I am conducting a pilot program at Oakbrook Middle School and so far it is working out for the youth and volunteers involved.
The overall effectiveness of the Youth Empowerment Program was evaluated by interviews, post-assessments, and surveys of the students, the parents, and the teachers. Comparing the results from the first interviews, the pre-assessments, and surveys gave the Youth Empowerment Program the information required to judge the success of the project. Though we were aware that the program fell short of some of the goals originally planned, it became obvious that the Youth Empowerment Program was a success with the students, parents, and the teaching staff.

Through this project I have developed as a learner. The experience has taught me to implement different methods for gathering information applicable to this project. The library provided an array of information in regards to this community project which my group has decided to partake upon. Information on non-profit organizations provided insight on how to establish communities project properly and what to do and what not to do in order to be successful. I also learned a lot of information from the internet and newsgroups. The internet provided information on how to set up a trouble free community project and warned of potential pitfalls that Y.E.P. could face. The newsgroups served as a forum for exchanging ideas and answering questions which would benefit the Youth Empowerment Program. Interviews conducted with community leaders, school administrators, and other non-profit organizations provided amazing insight. Brief surveys involving parents of school aged children also yielded substantial results which benefited Y.E.P.

As a community activist, I believe that this project will provide and has provided me with the knowledge I will need in order to benefit the community which I am serving. I have volunteered in many community programs and feel confidant about being a co-founder of a program that will benefit the at-risk youth population. I believe that this project has ultimately given me the experience and knowledge base to implement the non-profit organization called Empowerment MEDIA.

As a team member I have gained greater knowledge than previous group projects in which I participated. In the past, a group project would last a couple of weeks at the most. If the group was not cohesive, it really did not matter because we would not be working together for very long. If I had to do more work than I was initially assigned to make up for someone else’s shortcomings, it was not much of an issue because it was a short-term project. Because this group project spanned over three semesters, it took more of a group effort in order for it to be successful. Every group member had a substantial workload, so if someone was detrimental in their duties, the whole group suffered. I found my patience being tested as a team member because of this phenomenon. I strive to do the best that I can in whatever I partake in, but found that some of my team members did not have the same drive that I had. Because I have been designated as team leader for the Youth Empowerment Program, I felt that it was my responsibility to make the group a cohesive unit. Though we all were assigned particular duties, I strived to have a more fluid working environment in which everyone helped everyone else in regards to their duties and assignments. An “individual” team approach to finishing assignments would have made the group project harder to succeed in the mission of empowering the youth. The sooner my team accepted that ideology, the more successful this group project became in accomplishing their mission. I got feeling that my team was only looking at the short term goal of getting a passing grade for completion of this group project. After the conclusion of this project, I feel that most of us are in agreement that we will continue shaping and nurturing this program to benefit more youth in its mission of empowerment. It was my mission to educate my team members in seeing the long term goal of having a successful group project which would benefit its target group and possibly grow to become more influential in servicing a larger population in empowering themselves.

My learning related to the larger world because I believe that society is failing in its mission of servicing and teaching the youth. The behavior patterns and academic deficiencies in the school system offer evidence of this phenomenon. Single-parented households and dual-working parent households may supply answers to why such detrimental social norms are becoming more prevalent in our society. Some of the surprises that I found in partaking in this project are the unwillingness to help change what is going on by the community my group is servicing. Many people felt that it was not their concern because it was not a problem that directly affected them while others felt that it was not beneficial to their families. I was frustrated by the results I received from non-profit organizations such as Y.E.S. and Y.A.P. because they seemed unwilling to help another non-profit program. I am also frustrated by my group’s lack of drive. Some of the dilemmas that I felt the Youth Empowerment Program faced was the lack of funding, host location, and proper implementation of the project by its members.

My personal goals for this project was to learn about non-profit organizations, make this project beneficial to the population that it serviced, and to make an impact so that it affected all those that are involved. I feel that if proper focuses are geared towards children than they will have better opportunities in the world. Society is changing and in such a way that children are suffering because of it. If more time is taken to help children stay focused on their endeavors than they can grow to be better people and overcome obstacles that may stand n their way.
I hope to improve myself by becoming a better team member and team coordinator in the non-profit organizations that I am a part of and the company that I currently work for, Alternative Behavioral Services. I hope to learn more patience when dealing with people that do not share my same values and who do not have the same passions that I have. I want to grow as a person and by doing so, people will look at me as an example of excellence in what they want to become in their lives.
One of the skills that I want to improve on is motivational speaking. I want to be able to empower people by my speeches and evoke emotions in those that hear the words that I speak. I want to be a great communicator in which those that listen to me will feel and comprehend what I am saying and be able to make positive changes in their lives because if it. I also wish to acquire information on establishing a non-profit organization that truly benefits the people. I believe that a non-profit organization needs to know who it serves, what their needs and wants are, and how best to respond to these needs and wants. Non-profit organizations should exist to serve a constituency or cause and must strive to be successful.

I believe I accomplished great things as a team leader. As the team leader, my concerns were for my team and the youth that we were servicing in terms of empowerment. I hope to get my team to work effectively together, building on strengths, and mitigating weaknesses. I hope to make this project innovative and to meet our mission.

I believe success lies in having the children believe in themselves and overcoming the negativity that they are facing and may face in the future. I hope this project showed them the path that will lead them to better things in life. My grandmother once told me that if you don’t know where you want to go in life, any road will take you there.


Don said...

I believe success lies in having the children believe in themselves and overcoming the negativity that they are facing and may face in the future

Definitely the same belief which I share. It took me to look back and understand when and where myself and some friends and family got off track. We couldn't overcome certain negatives.

Good read.

Linette said...

Keep up the good work.