Leading and Living: Positive Youth Development In Action

Poetry Event 003In previous blogs, we’ve shared some of the amazing things our Youth Advisory Board has done. This dedicated group of current and former clients meets weekly, sharing their time and talents to make our community and our services better. This past week they hosted an event that was the culmination of months of work . . . and we are so excited to share it with you!

Last spring, the Youth Advisory Board members worked with staff to write and submit a grant application to Western Michigan University’s non-profit leadership class. As part of the application process, they hosted class members on site and told them of their plans and had them attend a group meeting.  The end result?  They were awarded the grant and have worked diligently to bring their project — combining mentorship roles with a Poetry Slam that would reach out to their peers — to fruition.

To this end, Youth Advisory Board members ended up partnering with the local Boys and Girls clubs, serving as mentors to young ladies at the club, and learning important leadership skills in the process. They themselves benefitted from the help of community mentors who taught them poetry and writing skills which they then brought to the young ladies they worked with as they helped them voice their thoughts through poetry. It was a perfect example of positive youth development — something fundamental to all Ark Services for Youth. Building on their strengths, the youth were empowered, learned skills, and then were able to use those skills to help others.

“Winter Expressions,” their Poetry Slam event, took place this past Tuesday. Youth Advisory Board members worked with their mentees to publicize and host the event and also performed original works for all in attendance. The smiles of pride on the faces of both the Youth Advisory Board members — who had poured countless hours into planning and preparing for the event — and the mentees, who had worked so hard to write their poems and rehearse them were evident. They plan to continue the mentoring relationships throughout the spring semester of school.  We are so proud of our Youth Advisory Board and the mentees for their commitment and want to congratulate them all on a job well done!

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