Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC: Creating a Roadmap for SuccessPeriodically, ACT for Youth spotlights the work of a STYA provider. Our thanks go to Lauren Prague, who shared this story.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City incorporates STYA into their community-based mentoring program through a quarterly workshop series. Little Brothers and Sisters are identified by their agency social workers as strong candidates for peer leadership because of their commitment to the program, their personal growth, and their Bigs. The workshops are delivered over the course of three Saturdays, incorporating lessons focused on goal setting, self-esteem, peer pressure, diversity, and communication. We believe that these skills will allow our Little Brothers and Sisters to successfully navigate the transition from pre-teen to adolescence and young adulthood. Throughout the workshop series, participants acquire a collection of worksheets which, during the final workshop, they compile into a workbook that will serve as a "roadmap" used to empower and guide them through their transition into adolescence.
Workshop 1: Goal SettingUsing a SMART goals framework, facilitators guide participants through a series of activities related to goal setting and help them set long-term goals to ensure their success as teenagers. Through a game of questions, participants identify some of the differences they will encounter between being a child and being a young adult. Participants identify a goal for themselves to accomplish as teens and learn how to make their goal(s) specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time limited. Their goal will serve as the destination of their "roadmap" through adolescence.
Workshop 2: Self-EsteemDuring the second workshop, participants engage in activities and discussions around self-esteem and bullying, and identify specific ways to treat their peers with respect and kindness. Participants also identify one of their own strengths that they can utilize throughout their journey towards becoming a teenager that will allow them to successfully navigate the transition through adolescence. This becomes their "suitcase" that they will carry with them.
Workshop 3: Peer PressureIn the third workshop, participants learn about peer pressure. Through interactive games, activities, and discussion, Littles learn about different people that they will encounter throughout their lives who have the potential to either be helpful or harmful during their journey to becoming teens. Participants learn that some people will empower and enable them to achieve their goals. They also learn that others have the potential to lead them off track. Participants identify one person who they share common values with who acts as a guiding force, their "lighthouse" on their journey to becoming a teen.
Workshop 4: DiversityThrough continued dialogue, games, discussion, and video, Littles participate in a conversation about diversity and the impact that imposing labels can have on others. Through an interactive activity, Littles learn that their words have a lasting effect on others and experience how it feels to be reacted to in a certain way due to a label that is imposed upon them. Participants complete a worksheet identifying a positive aspect of their identity or personality that makes them unique, that encourages them to celebrate diversity, and that they will keep with them during the transition to adolescence, their symbolic "self."
Workshop 5: CommunicationIn this final workshop, Littles, along with their Big Brothers and Sisters, learn about effective communication by engaging in activities where they must identify nonverbal communication cues, practice active listening, and identify techniques to deescalate conflict. This culminates in a "Human Knot" activity in which Bigs and Littles work together to communicate effectively and untangle themselves from a knot of their arms. Lastly, Littles, along with their Bigs, identify one skill, message, or lesson that they will walk away with at the conclusion of the workshop series as the final component of their roadmaps, their "footprint," which will have a lasting impression into their teenage years.
Previous SpotlightsThe following documents are in PDF format:
Spotlight 1 - Engaging Youth: Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center
Spotlight 2 - Involving Parents: Niagara Falls Housing Authority
Spotlight 3 - New Experiences: Orange County Youth Bureau
Spotlight 4 - Engaging Youth in STEM Workshops: Mount Vernon Youth Bureau
Spotlight 5 - Connecting Youth to Community: Committee for Hispanic Children and Families
Spotlight 6 - STEM Zombies and Mad Scientists: Boys & Girls Club of the Bellport Area
Spotlight 7 - Collaborating to Build Skills: Metro Council for Teen Potential
Spotlight 8 - Cultivating Civic Responsibility and Creativity: Central Queens YM & YWHA
Spotlight 9 - Exploring the Meaning of STYA: YWCA of Syracuse and Onondaga County
Spotlight 10 - Innovative Field Trips and Discussion Activities: New Alternatives for Children
Spotlight 11 - Creative Literacy Program: Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo
Spotlight 12 - Engaging Youth: Forestdale
Spotlight 13 - Opportunity and Reflection: DREAM