By: Matt August
Working with youth is meant for everyone
I believe it is true that spending time with children or young adults may come easier to some than others. Yet, a task’s difficulty should not be the sole basis for one’s participation. Rather it is the purpose of the task that we must take into account. I believe God’s intention for humanity is heavily rooted in community and relationship. This is demonstrated not only in the Holy Trinity, a community in itself, but also in the creation of man and woman. Additionally, I believe community was not to be limited by age, nor race, nor gender, nor ability, nor wealth. Therefore, when I read, “love your neighbor as yourself” I consider it our duty to think of the 24 year old, 73 year old, and 8 year old alike. And so, even if you do not find working with youth to be your passion or your gift, there is a place in this area of service where your efforts are still needed.
For the one who finds spending time with youth difficult – it is your chance to be stretched, challenged, to facilitate positive change in the next generation, and to attain new perspectives in life through the actions of children.
For the one who finds spending time with youth easy or natural – once again, it is your chance to be stretched, challenged, to facilitate positive change in the next generation, and to attain new perspectives in life through the actions of children.
Everyday is anew while working with youth. No matter who you are or what your talents may be, there will be unforeseen challenges and supplementary responsibilities, but in almost every task there will be an opportunity to have your hand in changing a life.
A Cyclic Transformation
When you think of a cycle, its common to envision something like this.
Continuity, balance, pattern, and rhythm are many of the characteristics that come to mind from witnessing the processes of any given cycle. For me, Project Transformation was a cycle. One that brought stability, but also formed growth. The most important detail about this reoccurring loop was that the pattern of growth began from my team’s focus on children. Each week we had the opportunity to form lesson plans in the disciplines of art, science, math, reading, and recreation. Additionally, we planned enrichment activities and field trips to take the kids to exciting new places. Now, I understand if curriculum planning is not your favorite activity, but there is something special about having the chance to systematically create, implement, and witness your own program positively alter lives. For every action my team made, there was a reaction from the children. In turn, each child’s action left my team also with a reaction. This is the natural cycle of community and relationships, as I’m sure many of us have been able to experience. There is a give and a take. However, the key to this particular cycle at Project Transformation is the call for TRANSFORMATION. PT is a program with a staff that recognizes a significant need in the community and desire for change to occur. The scenario is this:
2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up
in jail or on welfare. Over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level. (Write Express Corporation. “Literacy Statistics.” Begin to Read. Accessed February 24, 2015.)
More than half of the achievement gap between lower and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college (Alexander et al, 2007).
The mission is simple – spend intentional moments with youth, specifically concentrating on the development of reading skills through one on one interactions, to help primary education students either improve or retain their reading level.
The program is effective and the statistics speak for themselves. From the 2015 summer term 98% of campers maintained or improved in their reading level!
The cycle of growth experienced at Project Transformation begins with the young adult team, but the transformation in this program does not end with the children. Rather, you will find yourself daily being renewed, strengthened, and empowered. If you are looking to gather any of the following skills I guarantee this program will give you those opportunities, as I have experienced them firsthand.
How to love others, being generous with your time and attention
How to be professional
How to lead, while also knowing when to follow
How to be humble
How to persevere
How to be understanding of others
How to be an advocate for those that are rarely heard
More information about the program can be gathered from this site: http://projecttransformation.org/oklahoma/