I currently work in an afterschool program and during the summer I work at the summer camp for seven weeks. This is my fourth year at my job and I absolutely love it. The reading Youth Work: Preparation for Practice explained seven characteristics of youth work. I was able to connect almost everything to my own experiences of working in the after school program and camp.
The first characteristics of Youth Work is Youth Work in an educational practice. One of the most important concepts from this section came right from the first sentence. The authors state that youth workers are educators “who engage with young people in diverse settings.” I completely agree with this statement because children do not just learn in a classroom but in multiple settings. The reading explains that informal education focuses on where children “are at” instead of using teaching methods. A primary concern is where they are personally and socially. I can personally say that kids learn so much outside of the classroom. They are able to use what they did learn in school in a less stressful environment.
The next characteristic is Youth Work is a social practice. Usually young people are pulled more into groups when they associate with their peers. This social practice allows youths to “test their values, attitudes and behaviors” in an environment where they are with others. Knowing this, youth workers can keep that in mind and can use that to their advantage.
Now for youth workers actively challenge inequality and work towards social justice. As a youth worker it is our job to make sure there is positive, and healthy environment. It’s very important that a youth worker is someone who “seeks to address power imbalances” instead of someone who just shakes their finger no. A small example of this was when I first started working with kids, I was paired with the kindergartners and they were coloring. The kids were coloring people and kept asking for the “skin color” crayon, which happen to be the tan colored crayon. I work in a very diverse environment and I was shocked. I remember picking up the crayon and saying “uh this doesn’t look like my skin color.” And I proceeded to compare it to their arms to show them that it really was not anyone’s skin color. I explained that the color is tan and not “skin color”.
Another characteristic is where possible, young people choose to be involved. When it comes to youth work, young people are more likely participate freely where as in school they are in a sense forced. For example at my job the children are allowed to choose what activities they would like to go to, and they are allowed to leave when they please. This gives the children a sense of independence and makes them participate and give their all.
Youth work seeks to strengthen the voice and influence of young people is a very important characteristic. It create chances for youths to be more liberated and self-sufficient. They are imperative skills that children need to have in the future.
The next characteristic is youth work is a welfare practice. Overall the authors explain that youth work is a welfare practice because it is a youth workers job to promote “the welfare and safety of people.” For example at my job safety is a huge concern of ours. Making sure the kids are not putting themselves in physical danger, but also putting an emphasis on a positive environment.