Creating a Teen Center

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Hi yall!

I am currently serving as a VISTA in Baton Rouge, La and have been tasked with helping create teen center programming for youth in the city. This has proved quite as easy as I was hoping. Has anyone else had to create a teen center's programs from scratch? If so, can you share some insight on how you recruited volunteers and intially got students in the doors?

Any advice or information you can share would be greatly appreciated! 

Emily

Hi Emily, I am still under my term, but I think a great way to get youth buy in is by asking them. I took a Positive Youth Development training offered by the Department of Health and the Environment, and it talked quite a bit about framing things in a positive light and giving them choice "to increase involvement, impact, ownership, communication, and support." 

There are 5 "levels" of Youth Engagement from the training

Outreach/Service - Communication Flows from the program or initiative to inform and/or serve young people.      The outcome is to establish communication and outreach channels, while sharing information and providing services to young people. (ex. going into a classroom or after school program and doing an activity or giving a talk that provides them with knowledge about what you do or are trying to do)

Consult - Young people provide one time or periodic feedback.       The outcome is to develop connections and learn about the needs, interests, and perspectives of young people.  (ex. gathering a random sample of students from a local school periodically and asking them wha tthey want to see the center or a portion of the money to go towards/ asking them what they think they need)

Involve - Communication flows both ways and young people provide ongoing participation.     The outcome is to  initiate partnership and increase cooperation. (ex. having a set youth advisory council who gives input on a regular basis)

Collaborate - Young People influence decision making.      The outcome is to have increased trust and partnership building. (ex. having a youth board who weighs in with staff/board before decisions are made about issues and ideas) 

Share Leadership - Young people share power and responsibility with adults in making decisions together.     The outcome is to develop a strongpartnership with bidirectional trust that affects broader community health outcomes.  (ex. having a mixed board of youth and adults for a particular project or program)

 

It can be hard to get adults to relinquish some power. I am dealing with this currenlty on a similar type of project becasue staff has an idea of what they would like to see, but then worry if youth will come and enjoy the space/program, so I keep reminding them this would be a good model for which to aim.  Most likely we will use the consult step for the initial plans and then narrow it down to a smaller group for the involve/collaborate portion for ongoing changes. 

Hopefully this is helpful!

Natalie

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