Youth Asset Development
Core Result: Children and Families Safe & Healthy
Alongside substance use prevention efforts, Youth Alliance partners and members help provide opportunities for teens to build positive values and serve their community. This powerful initiative creates future leaders and lowers teen risks for substance use.
Strong communities don’t come about without concerted investment in individuals. The Youth Alliance is behind programs such as YVC, Trips for Kids and more which engage youth and families in other-centered community service projects throughout the year.
Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) of St. Joseph is one of 37 affiliates of the international Youth Volunteer Corps headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. YVC of St. Joseph, and all affiliates, implement the same program model to engage youth ages 11-18 in team-based, structured, diverse, flexible service-learning opportunities. The mission of YVC is to “create volunteer opportunities to address community needs and to inspire youth for a lifetime commitment to service.”
Four fundamental goals of all YVC affiliates are:
1. To engage youth in service projects that are challenging, rewarding and educational.
2. To serve the unmet needs of the community and its residents.
3. To promote among youth a greater understanding and appreciation for the diversity of their community.
4. To promote a lifetime ethic of service among youth.
In an effort to accomplish these goals, YVC of St. Joseph offers service opportunities both during the school-year and during the summer months. Weekly afterschool projects and a minimum of two weekend projects per month are scheduled throughout the months that school is in session. These projects are listed on the YVC St. Joseph Facebook page, and are e-mailed to registered youth, parents, and school staff.
YVC Summer Program (formerly called YAC Attack!) offers 6-8 week-long service project opportunities to young people ages 11-18 over the months of June and July. These projects are diverse in nature and are complimented by leadership and enrichment activities led by Youth Alliance staff and/or YVC AmeriCorps Members. Program enrollment is limited. Participants are required to complete an application as well as participate in an orientation prior to assignment.
Volunteer hours are recorded and tracked for each activity. This is an excellent way to complete mandatory hours of service for school graduation requirements, scouts, etc. Eligible candidates will be nominated to receive a Presidential Volunteer Service Award.
Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is a body of youth volunteers who have been nominated by staff because of their level of participation and their display of leadership skills. Participation in the YAB gives youth volunteers a voice by providing an ongoing forum to exchange ideas, express concerns, and share resources. Board members commit to a term of one year. They contribute a unique and crucial perspective to support YVC in multiple areas, including:
• Current project feedback and new project ideas
• Youth volunteer recruitment, retention and recognition
• Public relations and fundraising
Youth Advisory Board meetings are held monthly, on the third Sunday of each month. Meetings typically last 1 to 1.5 hours.
Truman Project is a pilot program offered at Truman Middle School, and funded, in part, by the Junior League. Girls often struggle with confidence and self-image throughout their middle school years. The Truman Project has been designed to teach these young women about the importance of nutrition, physical activity, and self-care, and how these key activities can impact them over their lifetime. Through this educational/mentoring project, these young women will become stronger, healthier, more confident, and more in control of their own life choices.
Beginning in the Fall of 2015, 20 girls from Truman Middle School will be invited to participate in an after school bike club for approximately 12 weeks. The club will be co-facilitated by Truman Middle School staff and Selena Good from St. Joseph Youth Alliance. As weather permits, they will ride bikes along the parkway. Additional community partners will be engaged to assist with bike rides and teach program participants about the mechanics of bikes. The girls will take a pre- and post-test of ‘Traffic Skills 101’ to make sure they have learned the correct ways to ride a bike and how to be safe. The girls will be encouraged to continue with biking and to get involved in various advocacy efforts here in St. Joseph to make it bike friendly and safer for bikers to ride.
In addition to biking, we will also incorporate topics and activities related to overall health, wellness, body image, and self-esteem building into this club. We will take a tour at our local grocery store to learn about healthy foods and how to shop on a budget. We will incorporate a healthy snack every time we meet. The girls will also be encouraged to share with their friends and /or sisters about what they have learned. This type of ‘pay-it-forward’ peer mentoring has the potential to impact many more young women than just those enrolled in the program.
Trips for Kids provides opportunities to teach kids ages 8-13 about mountain biking and the benefits this activity provide for health and wellness. The grant provided for the purchase of 24 bikes for the Youth Alliance, which are kept at the park office for the kids to use as needed. Sessions offered in Trips for Kids focus on health and nutrition and reducing the carbon footprint. While the bikes serve as an outlet for those youth without access to a bike, the program is open to all children 8-13 interested in learning the benefits of mountain biking.
Did you know that more than 60 percent of all children living in urban, underserved environments have never been beyond a three-mile radius of their home? Immersed in a world of concrete, along with frequent encounters with peers who may make wrong choices about drugs and other activities, it can be hard to see what’s out there.
Sometimes, a change in perspective can be the missing key for a youth who needs a boost of confidence or to challenge themselves in a new way.
Trips for Kids St. Joseph is a member of Trips for Kids® International a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Marin County, California. Founded in 1988 and now operating in over 80 locations throughout the United States, Canada and Israel, Trips for Kids (TFK®) International has opened the world of cycling to over 100,000 at-risk youth through guided mountain bike rides and job training/earn-a-bike programs. All TFK chapters, modeled on the foundation of the original TFK Marin program, are managed and operated independently at the local level but share a common goal. Their mission is to use bicycles as a vehicle for lessons in confidence building, achievement, health, fitness and environmental awareness through the development of practical skills and the simple act of having fun.
We would not be able to do the work we do without the generous support of our Trips for Kids International Sponsors and are proud to be working in partnership with these companies. Please join us in saying thank you by patronizing their business whenever possible.