Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Engaging Youth in Our Programming

At yesterday's staff meeting, we continued our discussion within the guidelines of the Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA) and reflected on how we might better engage the youth we serve. The YPQA divides "engagement" into three categories:
  1. Youth have opportunities to set goals and make plans
  2. Youth have opportunities to make choices based on their interests
  3. Youth have opportunities to reflect
Here are some notes from our discussion:

1. The staff agreed that we do a good job of giving our participants opportunities to make goals in the time they spend at the shop -- fixing a bike, helping someone else, doing homework, or creating Bike Part Art, just to name a few. When a kid picks out a bicycle they'd like to work on, we do an initial inspection to determine whether the project is appropriate for the skills and amount of patience they have. If it's in rough shape, they often decide to pick out an easier bike to fix. We agreed that we could always do a better job to help kids follow through with their plans, and it is important to appreciate their enthusiasm and support it with out own interest and guidance. How else might we help youth set goals and make plans? What other activities might work to incorporate into our programming? (remember, we aren't restricted to bike-related activities...)

2. We give our participants a regular opportunities to make choices based on their interests, whether it be to make music, dance, make videos and art, or repair bicycles (and the list continues...). Although bike repair is our central activity, we work hard to encourage participants to pursue their interests or passions, whatever they may be. On some Fridays, we often have an informal talent show to showcase our participants' unique skills, and often our volunteers become introduced to a participant through a shared interest. How might we better give our participants opportunities to make choices based on their interests?

3. We agreed that kids don't often get the chance to reflect during the time they spend at the CBC, with the exception of during informal conversations with staff or volunteers. Our drop-in program is often a bit hectic (with many people and projects going on at once), so it often isn't an ideal atmosphere for reflection and contemplation. We have experimented with different ways to gather participant input and to prompt reflection, but it has been a continuous challenge. How might we create and maintain opportunities for youth to reflect?

Feel free to leave a comment to join the discussion -- your thoughts will help the CBC to continuously improve, and to provide an even better place for helping youth to grow!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Some odds and ends...

The CBC is back from the Trek Across Maine and we all had an amazing time -- check out out Facebook page for some awesome pictures! You can find it here: .

We've noticed lately that some of our participants are having trouble using Shimano Rapidfire shifters (such as on some of our mountain bike and most of our tandems). Check out this useful link for a refresher:

Hope you all have a great holiday weekend!