YIPA FEST 2017 Breakout Sessions

A Career as a Professional Youth Worker – “What’s in It for Me?”

Youth Work professionals have an incredible responsibility as we shape the futures of young people. While financially under-compensated in light of our responsibilities to youth, we need to examine the intangible wealth and treasure of the experiences that we are fortunate enough to receive in our work. This interactive session will help you uncover the assets that youth “gift” to Youth Work professionals.

From this presentation, you will:

  1. Further recognize the humanity and shared bonds associated with Youth Work.
  2. Gain a greater appreciation for the non-monetary benefits of our work with young people.
  3. Know how to better advance the field of Youth Work when conversing with community stakeholders about your program and work with youth.

The presenter is Graham Hartley, Director of Programs at MIGIZI Communications. Graham began a career in Youth Work as a secondary science teacher with a passion for project-based learning. In 1995, Graham joined MIGIZI Communications and has helped thousands of young people discover interests, strengthen skills and plan for their futures through project-based learning. Graham also has significant experience in designing and delivering professional development workshops locally and across the nation with a focus on improving curriculum relevance to youth and increasing project-based learning and experiential education practices. Additionally, Graham is a founding board member of Bdote Learning Center and a board member of Nawayee Center, both of which are grounded in the culture of American Indian students.

Aging out of Foster Care: a Youth Perspective

Connections to Independence (C2i) is a Minnesota based non-profit organization that is achieving amazing outcomes with youth between 14 and 24 years of age who are in and aging out of the foster care system. Outcomes include: 92% of youth graduate and/or receive their GED, 60% go on to post-secondary institutions, 76% are employed, and 97% are in stable housing. At this session, you will hear directly from youth participants about how we as a community can better support the unique needs of youth as they age out of foster care.

From this presentation, you will:

  1. Gain a greater understanding of the barriers that youth face when aging out of foster care.
  2. Hear from youth their perspectives on how professionals in the field should be developing relationships with their clients.
  3. Learn about the C2i program model, which is grounded in relational youth development and meets youth where they’re at on the transition scale.

This presentation will be led by the C2i team that includes youth presenters who have aged out of the system. The professionals on the C2i team bring a combined total of more than 20 years of experience working with diverse populations with a specific focus on homeless youth and youth in out-of-home placements. C2i youth presenters have all aged out of the foster care system; the average length of stay in the system for youth presenters being 10 years and an average of 10 different placements while in the system. This presentation is done annually at the Daniel Memorial Independent Living Conference, the International ATTACh Conference, and the National Foster Care Conference.

Building and Promoting Health! Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Is About More Than Eliminating Risk.

Individuals and communities across Minnesota have concerns about youth using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Reducing risk is typically a community’s first response. While critical, the strategies can be vague and overwhelming. Too often forgotten, yet equally important and effective, is building the protective factors for youth. Come learn about various community-based prevention strategies, how you can be a strategic partner, and resources available to you.

From this presentation, you will:

  1. Become familiar with various strategies for eliminating risk and also for building and maintaining protective factors.
  2. Identify ways that youth workers and youth-serving organizations can be active partners in strategic substance abuse prevention efforts.
  3. Learn how to connect with your regional prevention coordinator and the regional network of prevention professionals.

The presenters are Lindsey Smith and Laura Bennett. Both are Regional Prevention Coordinators (RPCs) with the Minnesota Department of Human Services’ Alcohol and Drug Division. Lindsey is responsible for the metro Twin Cities’ seven-county area, while Laura serves Northeast Minnesota. As RPCs, Lindsey and Laura work with individuals, organizations, and communities to prevent substance abuse by providing resources, training, assistance, and consultation. With a career that began in youth development, as a RPC Lindsey is following a passion for building stronger, healthier, and safer communities. Laura’s career in substance abuse prevention began early on as a student at the College of St. Scholastica where she served as the Alcohol and Drug Education Coordinator.

Caring for the Caregiver

Working with young people is stressful and can cause secondary trauma for youth workers. No wonder that burnout, high staff turnover, and reduced productivity are significant challenges in Youth Work. It doesn’t have to be that way. This interactive session designed for direct service workers and supervisors will demonstrate various techniques and strategies that can be used in the workplace and in your personal life that will make self-care a priority.

From this session, you will:

  1. Gain a deeper understanding of self-care and its importance in enhancing the quality of Youth Work.
  2. Identify ways to integrate self-care into your personal and professional life.
  3. Learn how your organization or program can support self-care to improve staff morale and employee retention.

The presenters are Lisa Pung Michaelson and Jenny Miller. Each provides leadership to the YMCA of Greater Twin Cities’ more than 60 committed youth workers in its Youth Intervention Services programs.  Lisa joined the YMCA Greater Twin Cities as a youth worker in 2008 and is now a program executive for the Y.  Additionally, through the YMCA Global Partners initative, Lisa has worked with youth at the Durban, South Africa YMCA. Jenny, YMCA’s Youth Support Program Director, has worked for the YMCA for more than 14 years and provides leadership to life coaches and staff in its Youth Intervention Services.

Creative Engagement: How the Arts Can Help Youth Collaborate and Make Change

Young people who have arts experiences outside of school are more civically engaged, show better academic outcomes, and have higher career goals than youth who do not.. For youth, the arts foster self-expression, a sense of belonging, and self-efficacy. However, offering the arts within a youth work program can be a challenge due to limited time, money, and resources. But it can be done! At this session, find out how you can more incorporate the arts and creativity into your work with youth. The session will include an activity led by spoken word artist SEE MORE PERSPECTIVE that will demonstrate the benefits of creativity in Youth Work.

From this session, you will:

  1. Identify ways to use creativity to help youth examine themselves, the community and social justice.
  2. Learn strategies that programs can realistically and effectively implement that incorporate creativity in youth work.
  3. Become familiar with research that documents the positive outcomes for arts-engaged youth

Presenters are SEE (Adam) and Betsy Mowry Voss.  SEE, as a spoken word artist and in working with youth, has years of experience in using Hip Hop and spoken word to address social justice, explore identity, and create community engagement. SEE currently teaches Hip Hop courses at the West Bank School of Music and coordinates the Agents for Change youth program in South Minneapolis. Betsy, COMPAS’ Arts Innovation Director, has more than 25 years of experience working in the non-profit sector in the arts, education, and social services.  Betsy’s responsibilities include exploring ways that COMPAS’ teaching artists can be used in less traditional practices.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Youth Programming

Diversity, equity, and inclusion cannot be viewed as simply an option or ‘nicety’ in youth programming. If we are to be successful in offering the appropriate physical and emotional spaces to our youth, we need to start with a firm understanding of what the terms “diversity”, “inclusion”, “cultural competency”, and “cultural responsiveness” encompass. This session will discuss culture and inclusion using a wide lens before narrowing it in, with opportunities for participants to think through their own programs in terms of the types of diversity and equity they support. This session is designed for participants to reflect, share, brainstorm, and learn from their peers.

From this session, you will:

  1. Be better able to define terms related to equity and inclusion.
  2. Identify the strengths and challenges around inclusiveness within your own programs and youth work.
  3. Bring back to your program various strategies to increase equity and inclusion.

The presenter is Julie Richards, the Director of Programs at Saint Paul Youth Services. With 20 years of experience in Youth Work, Julie firmly believes that what we do is social justice work and, when done intentionally, will help youth develop the skills they need to create their future. Julie’s career began as a youth worker. While missing the daily interactions with youth, Julie is passionate about providing authentic professional development opportunities for those directly serving youth.

Let’s Talk Healthy Relationships With Middle School Age Students

Talking about healthy and unhealthy relationships with middle school students can be difficult. While the classroom setting provides ample opportunities to reach youth and work on these topics, the school setting has inherent challenges. This session will provide you with strategies and other resources that will help you to effectively partner with schools to bring opportunities for these important conversations to students. The presenters will share their experiences in offering a Middle School Summer Program at several schools that reaches hundreds of students.

From this session, you will:

  1. Understand why conversations on healthy relationships need to start before high school.
  2. Learn various interactive activities that engage middle school students in conversations around healthy and unhealthy relationships and empower positive bystander interventions.
  3. Identify strategies that you can use in working with middle schools and staff to overcome barriers in educating students on dating and sexual violence issues.

The presenters are Courtney Gillman, Adrianna Perez, and Dawn Rutt. All are with Alexandra House. Courtney and Adrianna are Youth Services Advocates and Dawn is Alexandra House’s Youth Services Coordinator.  Alexandra House, located in Anoka County, offers a wide range of services related to domestic and sexual violence. Services include helping Anoka County students who are dealing with family, dating and sexual violence by providing support groups, individual advocacy, and classroom presentations.

The Greatest Community Asset of All: Young People! 

We all know Youth Work centers on youth being equal partners with us in decision making. But how do we create meaningful discussions in our programs and in the community? Improv is one way! It puts teens in front of the audience, rather than in the crowd.  Improv is a cost effective, national award-winning strategy for addressing virtually any community concern and having youth be fully engaged in problem-solving discussions. This session has youth presenting short, realistic scenes, with each scene followed by a 10 minute facilitated audience conversation.

From this session, you will:

  1. Know how to promote your youth as key assets in their school and community.
  2. Learn how to generate a real problem-solving conversation, with audience members and teens interacting in meaningful dialogue.
  3. Begin exploring how your school or community can establish an Improv troupe.

Presenters are Tom Koplitz and Linda Rambow. Both are Lead Improv Trainers with Community Partnership with Youth and Families. The Partnership began its Teen Improv Theatre in 1993 as a tool to generate audience discussion on issues relevant to the community. Tom, in addition to being a Lead Improv Trainer, is the Executive Director of Community Partnership, while Linda is the Youth Director of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lindstrom (MN). Tom also is the coordinator for Partners for a Drug Free Chisago County Coalition and Linda is a Site Coordinator for Youth FIRST Club (an after school program).

Working With Hmong Youth

Hmong youth are one of the largest and fastest growing youth populations in Minnesota. They also represent a near majority of the Hmong community – nearly 45% of the Hmong population is under 18 years of age. Hmong youth face unique challenges as they navigate the complexities of Hmong, Western, and Youth cultures. After attending this session, you will be better prepared to support and guide Hmong youth.

From this session, you will:

  1. Gain an understanding of adolescence and its historical context through the lens of the Hmong culture.
  2. Understand the current trends impacting Hmong youth.
  3. Learn what Hmong youth may need to succeed as thriving young people.

The presenter is Kasia Heurh, the Youth Program Coordinator at Hmong American Partnership. Kasia brings to this presentation more than six years of working with youth of many backgrounds from Eastside of Saint Paul. Before joining Hmong American Partnership, Kasia worked with youth at Neighborhood House, Saint Paul Park and Recreation and at Humboldt High School in Saint Paul.  Kasia’s experiences include program and curriculum development, as well as small and large group facilitation. At Hmong American Partnership, Kasia is focused on preparing Southeast Asian youth to be tomorrow’s leaders.