Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Characteristics of a Youth Worker

1. Youth workers are educators: When I think of a youth worker, teacher is not a word I like to associate it with. Youth workers educate youth in settings other than a classroom, which gives youth the opportunity to see things in diverse settings. Youth workers base learning on where youth is rather than where they are told they should be which I believe is an important aspect of youth work. Youth workers give their youth the opportunity to think outside of the box instead of thinking within the four walls of a classroom. In my personal life, I have always been the type to learn by doing. I have a hard time sitting in a classroom and listening to a teacher or professor speak, sometimes I get lost in the words that are being said to me. I am the type of person that needs to look a things, explore, ask a million questions. In a classroom that is hard to do but in a setting such as summer camp, a youth theater group, or an after school program, I can learn the way that works for me.

2. Youth work is a social practice: Youth work is something that can be done one-on-one but it is much more effective in a group setting. Youth not only thrive off of you as a role model but they also thrive off of the peers they are constantly surrounded by. As youth workers and role models it is our obligation to help build strong social skills among peers. It is important to build on a youths social skills because youth are constantly surrounded by other peers whether it is in a school setting, a camp setting, or even among their siblings. As a camp counselor, working with groups of youth reminded me how important it is for children and adolescents to work together because (although they may not have seen it) youth are always learning from one another and building off of each other in positive ways. For example, I am the drama specialist at my camp which really gives me a great insight of youth working together to accomplish a goal. One of my campers was having a hard time with her role but the other children helped her and gave her positive ideas and feedback to give her the self- confidence she needed.

3. Youth workers actively challenge inequality and work towards social justice: Youth work is highly based off of (but are not limited to) youth who are considered minorities, underprivileged youth, and youth who are on the lower socio- economic scale. Youth workers serve to help these young people over come whatever situation they are in and build up their confidence and embrace where they come from. I currently work as a Behavioral Counselor for a Community Based Acute Treatment where we get many children who are minorities, and come from low socio- economic area. Part of my work is to help the youth that I serve to become motivated to change how they look at themselves and see themselves as individuals, not be defined by where they come from.

4. Where possible, young people choose to be involved: When a child feels as if they are being forced to do something, they usually don't want to do it. When youth are given the choice to do something, especially something that interests them, most of the time they are going to do it. When I was in middle school my mother forced me to go to camp and she made it very obvious that it was because she did not like the people I was hanging around with at school. I hated the idea of having to go to camp every day and not being able to see my friends. I felt as if I was being punished. In that case, I was being forced. I soon came to realize that I loved summer camp and couldn't wait to go every day and chose to return back (little did I know at the time I'd become a camp counselor at that camp in the future). Youth will become involved if they like what they are doing.

5. Youth work seeks to strengthen the voice and influence of youth people: Youth workers not only want to help youth who are in poor situations such as being low on the socio- economic scale, youth who are considered minorities, and underprivileged youth but we also want to strengthen them so they can stand up for themselves and their communities. Our goal is to give youth a voice of their own. Perfect example of this is Youth In Action because it is a program that gives youth the opportunities to learn and teach from others to strengthen themselves and fight for their own self justice.

6. Youth work is a welfare practice: Youth workers provide a safe place for youth. We all know that some youth do not come  from the safest of neighborhood or the most ideal living situation but as youth workers we provide a safe place for youth to be able to run around in a safe area or talk to us. My job en-tales working with children and adolescents who have some sort of trauma history. We provided a safe space through the staff we have built up and the proper skills to help them.

7. Youth work works with young people 'holistically': Youth workers are not working on only one aspect of youth, we are working with all of it. We don't just pick and choose what we are going to work on or what kind of kids we are going to work with, we work with everything all together. It may be harder that way, but youth need support in all aspects not just one. At work, I work with children and adolescents from all sorts of backgrounds with all types of issue that have been through a lot in their short lived lives, but we don't just target one specific area of treatment, we try to help them in every possible area that we can. It benefits them in the end.

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