YIPA FEST 2016 Breakout Sessions

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in Practice

Social-emotional skills are powerful and complex and every youth worker must know how to support youth in building these skills. While there are no cookie cutter methods that work with every young person, youth workers can influence how social emotional skills are “caught and taught” within their program. This action-based training will build your fluency and understanding of how to support social-emotional learning. By exploring practices that infuse social-emotional learning opportunities into existing program content, participants at this session will take back to their programs strategies to intentionally support social-emotional skill growth.

From this presentation, you will learn how to:

  • Explain SEL to co-workers.
  • Ensure your program supports SEL.
  • Integrate practical strategies to infuse SEL into your program content.

The presenters are Kate Walker and Margo Herman, both of whom are associate professors at the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development. Kate is a specialist in youth work practice and studies the role that adult program leaders have in supporting youth development. She also leads professional development programs aimed at supporting and improving youth work practice. Margo is an extension educator. Her expertise is in developing learning tools and curriculum, as well as providing professional development programming with a focus on youth program quality, leadership skills for youth work supervisors, culturally responsive youth work and social-emotional learning.

Underserved Mental Health Needs of Arab Youth

There has been a steady increase of Arabs immigrating to Minnesota and other areas of the United States with many from Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, and Egypt. Many are young people. While coming from different countries, Arab immigrants frequently share the traumatic experience of fleeing their home countries to avoid torture, brutal beatings and rape. Beyond language barriers, western models of providing psychological support do not take into consideration the unique Arab culture. As a result, the Arab community, including its youth, remains underserved by the mental health community. Come learn about a program that is reaching Arab youth and breaking down barriers to mental health services.

From this presentation, you will learn:

  • About the Arab community beyond stereotypes.
  • How to reach out to Arab immigrants and refugees in your own community.
  • About NAFSY, a new mental health program designed to break down the barriers to care faced by Arab immigrants and refugees.

The presenter is Ayman Sabry, who for 16 years lived in Arab countries and has also traveled extensively. These global experiences have provided him with a unique perspective of how best to interact with and support people from different religious, educational, financial, social and cultural backgrounds. Ayman is a psychotherapist with 180 Degrees, which is known for its diverse array of services designed to contribute to healthy, multi-cultural communities. Ayman’s professional experiences also include serving as a medical interpreter at the Mayo Clinic and University of Minnesota. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and is completing a master’s degree in community counseling.

Working with Youth in Conflict

Adolescent brain development is one of the hottest neuroscience research topics. The findings are transforming youth work. They are helping us to better understand that the tools we use to help adults resolve conflict won’t work the same way with youth in conflict. There are effective ways to modify tools for adults and also those specifically designed for youth when working with youth in conflict. Whether the conflict is youth to youth, youth to teacher, youth to family member or youth to mentor, come learn how to effectively de-escalate and re-engage youth experiencing conflict.

From this presentation:

  • Discover the foundations of adolescent brain development.
  • Explore conflict resolution tools designed to help youth move through conflict situations.
  • Learn best practices in conflict resolution and how to use them in your interactions with youth.

The presenter is Elise Chambers, the program director for Conflict Resolution Center. She brings to this presentation a decade of experience in youth advocacy work, including representing juveniles as a criminal defense lawyer at the Minnesota Law Collective. Elise has also co-authored published research on youth brain development and the mutual impacts that the juvenile justice system and adolescent mental illness have on each other. As program director at Conflict Resolution Center since 2013, Elise develops workshops and trainings in mediation, communication skills, brain science, youth mentoring and group facilitation training.

Nature and Nurture: The Significance of Nature in Youth Work & Youth Development

In the past decade, researchers are spending more time studying the impact of outdoor experiences on youth development. However, the amount of time spent outdoors & engaged with the natural world has been decreasing for younger generations. Tree Trust has spent the last 40 years integrating the outdoors with employment training and has seen the lasting impact a day in the woods can leave on a young person. Learn how your program can bring the benefits of the great outdoors to your  youth and community.

From this presentation, gain an understanding of:

  • Why young people are spending less time in nature than ever before
  • The definition of “Nature Deficiency” and its impact on youth development
  • Why youth workers should consider integrating more opportunities for engagement with nature.

The presenters are Hannah Maertz and Shanna Gronewold. Both work for Tree Trust. Hannah, an outreach coordinator at Tree Trust, is responsible for strengthening relationships with community partners, recruiting youth and young adults for Tree Trust’s JobPrep programs and connecting with employers to create career pathways for Tree Trust participants. Shanna, the program manager for youth and young adult services at Tree Trust, works with case managers to assist young people between 16 and 24 years of age achieve their employment and education goals. Both Hannah and Shanna are passionate about empowering young people to identify and use their skills and talents to succeed as individuals and be positive contributors to the community.

Quality Youth Programming: The Diversity Way!

Whether you work in the Twin Cities area or Greater Minnesota, the youth you are working with are becoming more diverse. Although challenging, cultural competency must be a core part of any youth program. There are evidence-based strategies that can help guide you in approaching and engaging culturally specific communities. This includes leveraging other community programs. Using experiences from working with the Hmong and African communities, the presenters will outline the process they used in developing their Youth Program Model. They will also be sharing evidence-based tools that track fidelity and capture the core contents of their programs with a focus on group experience and peer education.

From this presentation, you will learn how to:

  • Apply the Youth Program Model (YPM) to your own program.
  • Use the YPM to support your mission, vision, and values while maintaining a commitment to cultural competency when working with diverse populations.
  • Use the YPM as a helpful tool in peer education and group experience with the sexual health field serving as a discussion framework.

Presenters include Jamie Grilz and Margretta Getweh of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota (PPMN). Both Jamie and Margretta are experienced in providing sexuality education to diverse audiences. Jamie, PPMN’s Education and Outreach Assistant Director, is responsible for its metro-based and Saint Cloud education programs. Most recently she has been involved in establishing PPMN’s Safer Sex Initiative that offers one on one education and bridges the gap between education and clinical services. Margretta, PPMN’s Education and Outreach Specialist, facilitates PPMN’s Youth Power Program. Prior to joining PPMN, Margretta was a Youth Leadership Facilitator for the Minnesota African Women’s Association and its African Girls Initiative for Leadership and Empowerment.

ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience)

No child is immune from experiencing trauma. These traumas, referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), can change the brain development of an individual. These changes can have a life-long negative impact on an individual’s physical and emotional health. As youth workers, we may not be able to control the risk factors but we can help build up the protective factors that can minimize negative life-long impact. Building resiliency can be challenging and complex, but the outcomes, which can include breaking the cycle of family dysfunction, are worth it. Learn how to build the resiliency of the youth you work with, their families and yourself.

From this presentation, you will learn:

  • The prevalence of ACEs in the general population.
  • How to help youth recognize challenges in their lives and support them in building resiliency.
  • Effective ways to support families in breaking cycles of dysfunction.

The presenter is Kathryn Pietz, the executive director of the Lakes Area Restorative Justice Project. Kathryn has worked with youth since 1995 when she began volunteering with the Minnesota Citizen Council in Minneapolis. In 2009, she began as a volunteer at Lakes Area Restorative Justice Project as a restorative group conferencing facilitator and Circle Keeper. She joined the staff in 2003 as its program director and became the executive director in 2014. Kathryn has completed the Youth Intervention Certification, in addition to having certifications as a Life and Wellness Coach and ACEs Presenter.

Dirty Money

The drug and sex trades too often are part of life for homeless and street-dependent youth. With years of experience in working with youth who are homeless and street-dependent, staff from Life House will share their understanding of the dynamics of the street economy, street culture, gangs, and the interplay between drugs and sex trafficking. From this session, you will learn about more than the risk factors. You will learn about prevention and early intervention strategies based on best practices and promising programs. This includes Life House’s experience in operating Sol House, a supportive housing program for sexually exploited teens.

From this presentation, you will learn how to:

  • Connect with and earn the respect of street-engaged youth.
  • Recognize signs that youth are engaged in the drug or sex trade.
  • Redirect youth from the street economy to the mainstream economy.

Presenters include Maude Dornfeld, Luke Morcomb, and Jessica Mantor. Each works at Life House. Located in Duluth, Life House addresses the immediate needs of homeless, at-risk and sexually exploited youth through its drop in center and onsite housing, employment, and mental health services. Maude is Life House’s Executive Director, Luke manages Life House’s Futures Program, and Jessica oversees Life House’s Safe Haven (an emergency shelter and transitional housing program for sexually exploited and trafficked youth). Combined, they bring years of experience working with homeless and street-dependent youth.

Choices and Change: Shakopee Challenge Incarceration Program

Too often youth see crime romanticized in film and even by others in their community. Providing youth with the ‘real picture’ is Choices and Changes, which is a component of the Challenge Incarceration Program within Minnesota’s Department of Correction. Using a panel format, female offenders convicted of non-violent drug and property offenses volunteer to share their experiences in order to help youth gain a better understanding of the consequences of poor life choices. They share parts of themselves that most offenders attempt to forget, minimize or justify. This session will include an actual panel that will convey how the program addresses peer pressure and the need to build self-esteem as part of developing decision-making skills.

From this presentation, you will learn:

·         How Choices and Changes use real life stories to inform youth of the importance of good decisions

·         How restorative justice is incorporated in the Choices and Changes program

·         How to use Choices and Changes in your work with youth.

The presenter is James C. Church, who is the Restorative Justice Sergeant for the Challenge Incarceration Program for women offenders. This includes serving as the Coordinator for Restorative Justice and Offender Transition Circles. He brings to this presentation and his work with female offenders more than 30 years of experience in working within various correction systems. His leadership and commitment to restorative justice was recognized in 2014 with the Minnesota Community Corrections Association and Female Offender Task Force awarding James the Esther Tomljanovich Lifetime Achievement award. In 2013 the Minnesota Corrections Association awarded James its Lifetime Achievement award.

Compassionate Communications: Influencing Up, Down & Across Your Organization and Relationships

You have the personal and professional passion for youth work, but do you have the critical communication skills for success in your work? Advocates and professionals who are truly committed to and are successful in helping youth thrive have one thing in common and that is the ability to communicate honestly, openly and authentically within the communities they serve. This interactive session will provide you with practical communication tools and tips that will help you create healthier, happier and productive interpersonal relationships with youth and colleagues.

From this presentation, you will learn how to:

  • Build trust with youth, colleagues and organizational leaders using the Trust Model Equation.
  • Differentiate between being “brutally honest” and “compassionately honest.”
  • Use the six Influence Factors to create personal and professional buy-in from youth and others.

The presenter is Dr. Jermaine M. Davis, a professor of communications at Century College and a co-author of Leading with Greatness and 9 other books. Known for his engaging communication style, Dr. Davis explores communication styles and concepts by sharing his personal experiences of growing up in a drug and gang infested area on the west side of Chicago. He has significant experience in working with youth of all ages, including having taught 5th and 6th grade to homeless youth and academic achievement classes to first-generation high school and college students.


Regulating Behavior Beyond Drugs and Talk Therapy: An Introduction to Audio-Visual Entrainment and Neurofeedback

There are drug-free and holistic approaches to address challenging behaviors. These approaches build upon the brain’s ability to build new pathways (brain plasticity). Research shows improved social, physical, academic and emotional abilities resulting from entrainment and biofeedback. These training programs stimulate brainwave frequencies, stabilizing the central nervous system and improving neurological functions. Using case studies, the effectiveness and implementation of Audio-Visual Entrainment and Neurofeedback approaches will be explored. Both can be effective for youth struggling with depression, post-traumatic stress, hyperactivity, oppositional disorders, sensory processing and similar behaviors.

From this presentation, you will learn:

  • How challenging behaviors are symptomatic of “I can’t” and not “I won’t.”
  • How brainwave activity directs emotional change without drug use.
  • How Audio-Visual Entrainment and Neurofeedback can create new pathways in the brain leading to permanent positive changes in behaviors.

The presenter is Kelly Pittman, the director of neurotechnology at A Chance to Grow. For more than 30 years, A Chance to Grow has focused on human development and brain-centered programs to help children and adults reach their highest potential. Kelly learned about and pursued these natural approaches while seeking help for her child who has struggled with challenging behaviors. With the positive impact these approaches had on her child, Kelly became committed to sharing these life transforming alternatives to traditional medical approaches. Kelly is certified in advanced neurofeedback and is also a certified neurological reorganization practitioner.

Somali Youth and Culture

How to best meet the needs of Somali youth? Collaborations that bring together unique organizational expertise are often the best way. Hear about one in action that is making a difference in the lives of Somali youth. Community Mediation & Restorative Services (CMRS) and Ummah Project are working together to provide a culturally appropriate and relevant training for Somali youth in mediation and restorative practices. CMRS brings its decades of experience in restorative practices, while Ummah Project brings its unique knowledge of the Somali culture and community in the Twin Cities area. Come hear about this successful collaborative program from both program leaders and the Somali youth who have been trained.

From this presentation, you will learn:

  • Specific strategies for working with culturally specific populations.
  • The elements of creating a culturally relevant and specific program for Somali youth.
  • How to create a collaboration committed to using a culturally relevant framework to promote successful outcomes.

The presenters are Saciido Shaie, the co-founder and president of Ummah Project (originally known as the Somali Youth Action of Minnesota) and MiaLisa McFarland Millares, who is the youth and business services program director at Community Mediation and Restorative Services (CMRS). Saciido Shaie was born in Somali and moved to America with her family in 1992 as a refugee. She is a community leader and political activist at the local and national level. MiaLisa began with CMRS as a law student intern in 2006 and returned as a program manager in 2011. A licensed attorney, MiaLisa directs CMRS’s school and juvenile diversion programs, as well as business-consumer services and manages CMRS‘ training and outreach services.

Let Learning Be Way Too Much Fun: How to Get Youth of All Ages Excited to Learn

“Learning is boring.” We have all heard this from youth. After school programs can change that. They have the flexibility to use games and other activities to make learning fun whether it is math, science, social studies, or technology. Going beyond discussing new trends and research, this presentation will demonstrate ideas on engaging students, youth, and adults. We have the power to create positive attitudes towards learning among the youth you work with. Let’s use it!

From this presentation, you will learn how to:

  • Develop or offer games, activities, and lessons that use research-based strategies on combining learning and fun.
  • Apply new methods to ensure that learning is always fun at your program.
  • Create a program culture that promotes a positive attitude towards learning.

The presenter is Dustin Anderson, the program director at the Boys and Girls Club in Duluth and a Title I math teacher in the Superior School District. Passionate about teaching, Dustin  is committed to ensuring that whatever activities he is leading they are always interactive and a fun learning opportunity regardless of whether the setting is the traditional classroom or an out of school time program. Dustin has a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and Teaching.