Left to right: Joshua with some found treasures; Mathais learning about the Sun; Group of friends at Lighthouse State Park, Citycology Intern Randall helping Anayiah with her blubber mit.
The Citycology Program is a youth-teaching-youth program that enlists the talents of high school students to instruct and mentor younger youth. Like all Solar Youth programs, the main goal of Citycology is to provide supports and opportunities to youth that help them develop the skills and competencies to be happy and healthy stewards of their communities and own lives. Citycology is offered to children ages 4 to 8 living in low-income New Haven neighborhoods. Paid Program Interns lead the program, teaching curriculum and mentoring the younger participants. In the summer, Citycology is offered as full-day camp to youth citywide, bringing youth from every neighborhood in New Haven to a central location to form friendships, learn about their environment, and be positive change-makers. Citycology is a core program of Solar Youth’s “Cycle of Stewardship” - a menu of programs for youth ages 4 to 18+ that allows youth to learn about local ecology, participate in outdoor adventures and become agents of change in their communities, as they build on experiences over time, maintain relationships, progressively gain more leadership skills, and finally serve as neighborhood leaders and role models for younger children. Like all programs, Citycology follows Solar Youth’s unique program model: Kids Explore! Kids Do! Kids Teach! In this model, youth investigate the local ecology of their community (Kids Explore!), identify environmental issues that affect the health of people and the natural environment, and seek solutions through a process of problem-solving and youth led action (Kids Do!), then teach what they have learned and accomplished to others through public education projects (Kids Teach!). The expected outcomes for youth who participate in Citycology are: A demonstrated development of, at minimum, eight of the Search Institute's 40 Developmental Assets (the building blocks of positive youth development, the possession of which has shown to have significant effect on youth's ability to resist negative influences and achieve success in adult life). The Developmental Assets we measure are within the categories of 'constructive use of time,' 'empowerment,' 'commitment to learning,' 'positive values,' and 'social competencies.' A demonstrated increase in environmental knowledge and commitment to environmental stewardship. In addition, outcomes for Youth Educators include: A demonstrated increase in understanding of best principles and practices of youth development. PAGE 1
ďƒź A demonstrated development of employability skills, such as timeliness, public speaking, personal financial management, work ethic and a commitment to excellence. Finally, as a result of implementation of youth-led Community Service Action Projects (C-SAPs) and Public Education Projections (PEPs), Citycology contributes to an ecologically healthier and more environmentally conscious City of New Haven and its environs.
During the Summer of 2012â€Ś Hours of program offered Teenage youth hired Total youth enrolled Off-Site Adventure Trips Youth-led Community Service Action Projects (C-SAPs) Youth-led Public Education Projects (PEPs)
114 8 50 4 3
PROGRAM DEMOGRAPHICS Female Male
African-American Latino/a Other
84% 10% 6%
From left to right: Jayden showing off his Swomi Swan costume; Parachute games at Lighthouse State Park; Aviana having a blast; Friends having a day at the beach.
Summer 2012 Citycology Curriculum Environmental topics addressed and activities conducted during Citycology this Summer included: Water Cycles Water Molecules Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Habitats Food Chains
Ecosystems Rainforest Depletion Parts of a Tree Chlorophyll in Plants Adaptations
Water Pollution Bird Migration Cloud Types Sharks and Fish Seeds and Plant Growth
Developmental topics addressed and activities conducted during the 2011 Fall Season included: Literacy Emotional Intelligence Empathy
Kindness/Making Friends Listening Skills Cooperation
Building Motor Skills Sportsmanship Patience and Respect PAGE 2
Kids Explore! As part of every Solar Youth program season, youth not only have a chance to explore their local ecology, but they also participate in several out-of-neighborhood explorations! Summer Explorations
Tour of the Yale Marsh Botanical Gardens
Beach Day at Lighthouse State Park
Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk
Descriptions As part of the weekly theme “Welcome to the Jungle” youth took a special trip to the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, famous for its focus on rehabilitating injured animals. Camper favorites were the owls, bears, and tigers! They even got a surprise visit from a 100 year old P.T. Barnum, whose birthday celebration took place at the zoo! To celebrate Mother Earth, this week’s theme, the youth visited the Yale Marsh Botanical Gardens. Six greenhouses on eight acres of property, the Gardens were unlike anything the youth had ever seen before, and they were shocked to find that they were right in their backyard! The youth tried eating crabapples, learned about how cactuses survive in dry climates, and even fed the on-site frogs and fish! In the midst of a heat wave, the Citycology staff made last minute accommodations to visit Lighthouse State Park for a beach day. The youth played parachute games, made kites, competed in a sandcastle building contest, and rounded the day off with some joyful play in the water park. As Neriah summed up to her mother upon returning, “I had SO much fun.” To round out their exploration of all things underwater during their “Under the Sea” theme week, the youth embarked on a very exciting trip to the Maritime Aquarium. The youth watched an IMAX movie called “In Search of the Great White Sharks”, which had them jumping out of their seats! Then they explored the aquarium and saw sharks, touched crabs and manta rays, and played with the meerkats. They begged to stay longer when it was sadly time to leave.
From left to right: Dance contest at Beardsley Zoo; Yale Marsh Botanic Gardens; Omari at Lighthouse Beach; Sean at the Maritime Aquarium
Kids Do! After exploring their outdoor surroundings and participating in adventures further afield, youth are encouraged to identify community or environmental issues they would like to address. We call this the Community Service Action Project (C-SAP) Cycle. Engaging in the C-SAP Cycle allows youth to hone their problem-solving skills, allows them to cultivate an identity as agents of positive change and makes their community a healthier and more beautiful place to live!
Summer Community Service Action Projects
Save the Rainforest!
Messy Backyard Clean Up
Truffula Seed Making and Distribution
Descriptions During the “Welcome to the Jungle” theme week, the youth were heartbroken to hear that some of their favorite animals’ homes were being destroyed by rainforest depletion. When asked what action they would like to take, one youth immediately answered, “Write to the President!” The rest of her peers agreed, so the youth wrote over 30 cards and letters to President Obama (as well as local representatives) asking him to support ecologically sound farming practices in South and Central America. The youth were inspired by a Solar Youth staple game called “Messy Backyard”, in which the room is divided into two sections and the youth throw the trash in their team’s side (their “backyard”) to the other team’s side. They noticed that the room stayed just as messy when they didn’t dispose of their trash correctly, so they cleaned up the room, sorting recyclables from refuse. Their clean-up didn’t stop there! Empowered, the youth scoured the school and school grounds for any other misplaced trash that they could find. As a part of their massive teach project, a stage production of The Lorax (see the Kids Teach! section) the youth were inspired to make Truffula seeds that would actually grow to hand out to their friends and parents. After an educator taught them about seed bombs (self-germinating balls of seeds, clay, and compost that can be thrown anywhere and bloom completely on their own), the youth decided to put their own spin on them by painting them colorfully with eco-safe water based paint, bagging them with pretty ribbon, and handing them out to their parents to beautify their surroundings. “You’re in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds. And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs. Plant a truffula tree, treat it with care. Give it clean water, feed it fresh air. Grow a forest. Protect it from the axes that hack. Then the Lorax and all his friends may come back.”
Kids Teach! (about The Lorax . . .) In partnership with the Mayor’s Community Arts program through the City of New Haven, in the Summer of 2012, our youth were afforded the opportunity to do a whole new kind of teach project: a theatrical production of the Dr. Seuss classic The Lorax! While Teach Project normally take place after the CSAP as an opportunity to share their project with their communities, this Public Education Project became the centerpiece of camp. From the first day, the youth were absorbed into the world of The Lorax, and it became a tool to address not only literacy, but also the interconnectedness of all living things. Summer Public Education Projects Week One
Descriptions The youth were split into groups by age, each group named for an animal featured in The Lorax. The youngest group were the Hummingfish, all the way to the oldest Barbaloots. The youth read The Lorax together, and each group came up with a sound for their groups’ animal, culminating in a cheering contest in the field outside the school!
The youth participated in classic theater games to build confidence and stage presence. The favorite was a follow-the-leader type game that had the youth choose an animal from The Lorax and lead the entire camp as that animal through the school and outside. Youth started to put the play together, experimenting with different roles. They were in charge of the whole process, deciding what Truffula Trees should look like and how they should move, what parts of the book we should keep and what parts we should throw away, even which educator should be the narrator! Audition week! The youth practiced learning some lines, what “cues” were, and how to show what a character feels onstage. Then they used these techniques to audition for the role of the Lorax and the Onceler (the villan of the story). And because it was a youth-led project, the youth voted on who should get the parts! The date of the performance snuck up on everyone! The youth made their costumes, built truffula trees, and painted a colorful backdrop for the play. As Sean, age 8, said, “I am SO excited to do the play.” The last few days of camp were dedicated to rehearsal, until everybody felt confident to show it to their parents. Over 60 people were in attendance, and the youth beamed as they bowed at the end of the show to roaring applause!
From left to right: Axes that hack; Painting Truffula Seeds; Showing off homemade costumes
Solar Youth’s Evaluation Process Solar Youth measures its programs with a combination of evaluation tools, including Portfolios (evidence and examples of youth community service and public education work), Family Feedback Forms, Community Feedback Forms, and exit interviews. The Family Feedback Forms are based on best-practice evaluation tools developed by the Search Institute.
Feedback from Participating Youth ’s Parents (Number of parents who submitted feedback surveys = 18)
CATEGORY Youth Development Outcomes Prompt: “Because of Solar Youth…” Empowerment The community values my child My child is given useful roles in the community Commitment to Learning My child is actively engaged in learning My child wants to do well in school Positive Values My child places a high value on helping others My child is more accountable for his/her actions Social Competencies My child’s planning and decision making skills have improved My child has learned to be a better friend My child is more sensitive to the feelings of others Environmental Outcomes My child’s knowledge about the environment improved My child is more responsible about the effect he/she has on the environment Quality Assurance I would recommend Solar Youth to my friends/other parents I would like to (see my child) attend Solar Youth next season
% OF PARENTS WHO AGREED
94% 94% 94% 94% 94% 89% 94% 94% 94% 94% 94%
From left to right: Hanging out before a Lorax rehearsal; On a nature walk; Using a baseball to pound out chlorophyll from a leaf.
Intern Feedback (Number of Interns who submitted feedback surveys = 7) CATEGORY Youth Educator Skills Outcomes “Participation in Solar Youth…” Prepared me to use a lesson plan to deliver lessons through experiential (hands-on) education.
% OF INTERNS WHO AGREED
86% PAGE 6
Prepared me to practice positive behavior management. Helped me to develop skills as a group facilitator. Prepared me to implement activities that involve multiple intelligences. Helped me to attain greater knowledge of principles of environmental education. Employability Skills Outcomes “After being an intern in Solar Youth…” I feel that my timeliness has improved. My preparation skills have improved. My public speaking skills have improved. My personal financial management skills have improved. My work ethic has improved. My commitment to excellence has improved. Environmental Outcomes “After being an intern in Solar Youth…” I know more about the issues and concepts affecting the environment. My commitment to environmental stewardship has increased. Youth Development Outcomes “After being in Solar Youth this season…” I feel that adults in the community value me. I feel that I play a positive role in the community. I want to do well in school. I feel that I am actively engaged in learning new things. I like to help others. I take more responsibility for my actions. My planning and decision-making skills have improved. I have learned to be a better friend. I am more sensitive to the feelings of others. Long-Term Impact of Solar Youth “My overall experience with Solar Youth, both this season and in the past, has…” Prepared me for future employment. Encouraged me to continue my education. Encouraged me to live a healthier lifestyle. Motivated me to seek out opportunities to help my community. Helped me to develop a more positive sense of self. Taught me to consider the impact of my actions on the health of the environment. Quality Assurance I would recommend Solar Youth to my friends. I would like to attend Solar Youth again in the future.
71% 86% 86% 86%
72% 86% 86% 72% 86% 86%
85% 100% 86% 86% 100% 100% 71% 71% 86%
100% 100% 86% 71% 86% 86%
Quotes and Testimonials Steward Family Members “Our family enjoyed this program very much. She learned a lot and I hope to have her attend next year. I just wish that it was a little longer.” “Since joining Solar Youth, my child is adamant about not littering and is bothered by people littering." “Since joining Solar Youth, she better with her friends and she shares more.” “Since starting camp, Neriah is helpful around the house and she interacts well with family members and friends her age.” “Precious taught me about the clouds and their names.” “My child taught me about the ecosystem and how we are all interdependent on helping each other survive; not caring for the Earth and our environment affects us all.” “I’m really proud. Now I really feel he is ready for school thanks to the Solar Youth team.” “TJ has really grown since he came to Solar Youth. He cares about his friends more and he is always trying to help other kids if they have problems. He is always concerned about what is going on around him.” “I enjoyed watching my child grow and learn at this camp. She improved a lot and was excited to attend Solar Youth.”
“I’m so proud. I really feel he is ready to start school. ” -Citycology Parent
Steward Participants “I had SO much fun.” “My favorite part was seeing the sharks at the aquarium.” “I told my mom to pick me up late so I could spend more time at Solar Youth.” Interns “The most valuable part of the internship was seeing kids improve.” “The most valuable part was being a role model to the kids and playing with them.” “Three things I learned this summer are teaching, communication, and responsibility.” “I still feel like the same person, just with a brighter outlook on life.”
What Worked Well Raised Expectations for Program Interns
Why, and Suggested Adjustments This year, interns were in charge of all teaching and behavior management, and adult educators were present to support and supervise their work. Interns did a marvelous job with this heightened sense of responsibility, and the program ran more like it was meant to, with youth teaching youth. Family engagement Summer camp provided an opportunity to speak to parents every day about their children’s successes and challenges, which in turn enhanced the youth’s experience with Solar Youth. 90% of parents stated that they had sufficient contact and communication with the Citycology Staff, and one parent went on to say “I was really pleased how the staff and counselors took time out to tell me how their day went.” This high level of family engagement directly contributed to the extraordinary attendance to The Lorax presentation. All but two youth had at least one family member in attendance. Alternating work schedule Because youth educators took on such a high level of responsibility, for interns Citycology Camp enacted an alternating work schedule for the teenage staff. If an intern was in charge of behavior management for their group during the first week of camp, meaning they shuttled the kids from activity to activity and addressed any negative behavior, that intern would be a teacher the following week, learning lessons and delivering them to the youth. This allowed interns to better define their strengths and address their weaknesses as educators, and also prevented staff burn-out through a constantly shifting schedule and set of responsibilities. A more defined and prepared Having the Teach Project as the centerpiece of camp allowed youth to Teach Project become more invested in the development of the product over the course of the season, and allowed parents to see their children’s hard work right in front of their eyes. While CSAPs empower youth to make change, more developed Teach Projects allow them to share their summer with their parents. Use of varied debriefing tools In addition to teaching their daily lessons, teaching interns used a new debriefing tool every day, from kinesthetic debriefs to creative reflections. This array of tools spoke to multiple intelligences and provided the opportunity for youth to reflect on their experiences. Environmental-themed book Having The Lorax as the centerpiece of camp worked on many levels. as camp centerpiece First, it addressed literacy and reading skills through repetition of the same written material. Older youth were asked to read the story out loud to the younger children, and the younger groups practiced reading through symbol recognition and memorization. Secondly, it sparked interest in ecology through an empathetic connection to characters in the story. Third, it jumpstarted the imagination and the creative process, and allowed them to creatively address real-world issues and challenges. PAGE 9
Room for Improvement Age range
Staff reflection and appreciation
Why, and Suggested Adjustments There is a wide range of developmental stages represented in the Citycology program. While Stewards as young as 4 are just barely learning how to participate in a social group, or to read, older Stewards at seven and eight have been attending school with their peers for years, and have developed social, literacy, attention, and motor skills that are necessary for success in Solar Youth. While Citycology aims to increase these developmental skills and competencies, there is sometimes little capacity to accommodate such a broad spectrum. A possible adjustment, which would still accommodate the need for programming for 4 year olds, is to limit enrollment based on age, which would allow groups to remain developmentally appropriate. While the interns did an excellent job of leading youth in their daily reflections, it is equally important for the youth staff to reflect and debrief the work that they do. While reflections occurred each morning for the previous day, they were often time-constricted and not as in-depth as would be ideal. It would have been wonderful to be able to celebrate the staff as well, for all their extraordinary accomplishments.