Preparation for Practice
Youth Work is an Education Practice:
Youth workers are constantly learning and recreating their own practices. Youth workers are able to work in a variety of settings alongside a variety of youth. There is no one way to engage and work with youth- it can be molded by the youth worker with their own creative ideas, things learned throughout their journey of being a youth workers, and ideas the youth may bring. Youth workers can find success in learning where youth are rather than pre-determinations. I have found success in studying body language and behavior in youth. Every child is different and every child will behave different in changes of activities and environments. I work in a daycare with children of a variety of ages and interests. This has helped me grow and learn through my practice.
Youth Work is a Social Practice:
“Case work” approaches help youth workers determine youth needs. Youth surround themselves with people and scenarios they feel comfortable with. In order to understand youth members you must understand their environment. This may include attitudes, values and behaviors. It is important for youth workers to not only take youth development courses, but also social work courses that can prepare themselves for a variety of scenarios.
Youth workers actively challenge inequality and work towards social justice:
Youth workers recognize power-imbalances. A power imbalance can be detrimental to a child when learning to grow and succeed. The last thing a youth worker wants to see is a child fail or give up due to social injustices. The main goal for social workers is to ensure the well being of the youth they are working with.
Where possible, young people choose to be involved:
Youth who want to be involved- get involved. It is important to engage youth members who show interest in similar things as peers they are not necessarily comfortable with. This can be a useful tool towards building new friendships and breaking comfort level molds. “Quality of engagement” is everything. If you lose a child’s interest it can affect them negatively. At the daycare I work at, there is a huge problem with youth involvement. Some staff members do not have training or interest in working with children. Because of this- many children have lost interest in activities that get planned for the groups as well as a gained attitude for being “forced to come to daycare”
Youth work seeks to strengthen the voice and influence of young people:
It is important for young people to voice their opinions and ideas. Their voices now are the voices of tomorrow. The last thing a youth worker wants to do is tell youth members that their opinions or ideas are wrong- this can hinder their want to share. Instead, youth workers can redirect thoughts in a more positive and caring manner. Youth workers can encourage youth and help allow their voices to be heard. Youth workers can provide direction while youth members shape the projects. From experience, working with youth in Central Falls helped students gain importance in their community. Youth workers allowed youth to have the voice and decide on how activities would be ran. When youth feel important and valued it shows in their work.
Youth work is a welfare practice:
It can be challenging for youth workers to determine what is “best” for a young person. Youth workers do not design concepts or plans overnight. In many cases, it is a series of trial and error. In order to promote welfare and safety, youth workers must create goals and present opportunities to youth they are working with.
Youth work works with young people ‘holistically’:
It is extremely important to shape youth for the ‘better’. We want to provide the support and care youth needs and be the positive role models they need in their lives. Young people are able to change their lives around with support. It is not ethical to push young into dangerous or potentially negative situations. Youth workers must act as a youth crutch and be with them every step of their journey.