Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Seven "Characteristics" of "Youth Work"

"Youth work" or a "youth worker" is a term that has gone undefined and still to many of us seems something ambiguous in our early stages of our career. Some of us may not even know what youth work or a youth worker really is until you have that one moment where it defines you as a person. Until recently youth work was seen as your local camp counselor, DCYF, and the local agencies within the community in which "youth" attend. Youth Development has taken this concept and has built its foundations on what Thompson, Westwood, and Wood describe as the seven characteristics of "youth work" which entail educational,social, and welfare practice, social justice, youth involvement through choice, youth empowerment, and holistically. Many of us in the field we realize the importance of these basic and fundamental concepts and strive for excellence in all of the areas. Being a good youth worker (to me) based upon these characteristics described means we are willing to teach effectively through social involvement while empowering youth to strive for excellence while we effectively provide or engage our youth in the best welfare or social justice matters that surround their eco-systems both macro and micro. While these concepts are crucial in our engagement with youth it is important to understand that these are not the only concepts or fundamentals that youth work is based upon and that the understanding of youth work and engagement is still growing and we as youth works learn from our experiences within these concepts everyday by engaging with the youth of our future. There have been times as a youth worker that I have struggled with these concepts and the ideas that come along with them in how to engage youth. For example youth work does involve in group work to help engage youth in social involvement but sometimes it involves bending these concepts to help our ability to engage youth and skill build individually before engaging in deeper group work among our youth.

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My summer students at Mystic

Thanks all hope you enjoy.

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