Solar Youth’s Leaders-in-Training program (LIT) provides youth ages 11 to 14 with leadership training and opportunities that help prepare them to be committed, competent Solar Youth interns by the time they enter high school. Like all Solar Youth programs, the main goal of Leaders-in-Training is to provide on-going supports and opportunities that help youth develop the skills and competencies to be happy and healthy stewards of their communities and own lives. Leaders-in-Training supports youth who are transitioning out of programs for our middle cohort of youth (9-13 year olds) and are interested in eventually obtaining a paid Solar Youth internship when they enter high school. This fall, the program was led by LIT coordinator Robert Goehrke. Youth met twice per week in our Westville Manor neighborhood (8 enrolled) and Barnard Environmental Science Magnet School (5 enrolled). Leaders-in-Training 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 Leaders-in-Training are:
A demonstrated development of, at minimum, nine 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 will measure are within the categories of 'constructive use of time,' 'empowerment,' 'commitment to learning,' 'positive values,' and 'social competencies.'
In addition, outcomes for Leaders-in-Training include:
A demonstrated development of employability skills o e.g. timeliness, public speaking, work ethic and a commitment to excellence. A demonstrated increase in leadership skills o e.g. planning trainings and trips, and helping to lead other programs.
Finally, as a result of helping to lead the implementation of youth-led Community Service Action Projects (C-SAPs) and Public Education Projects (PEPs), Leaders-in-Training contributes to an ecologically healthier and more environmentally conscious City of New Haven and its environs.
During the Fall of 2011â€Ś Hours of program offered
(not including hours they spent in other programs)
Total youth enrolled Out-of-Neighborhood Adventure Trips Youth-planned trip for other program youth Youth-led Public Education Projects
13 11 1 2
PROGRAM DEMOGRAPHICS Female Male
African-American Latino/a Caucasian Other
77% 15% 8% 0%
Some of our Leaders-in-Training
Fall 2011 â€“ Youth Voice! Before the fall season began, youth who had been in Solar Youth previously and were in 7th or 8th grade were invited to help re-design this program. A handful of youth spent hours with the LIT Coordinator evaluating the summer program, brainstorming activities for the season, creating the design of the fall program, and coming up with the recruiting methods, application process, and selection criteria. Developmental topics addressed and activities conducted during the Leaders-in-Training program included:
Perseverance Kindness Professionalism Giving and Receiving Feedback Creating a multimedia presentation Planning a trip for 40+ youth
Helping with a Halloween Party Creating “Dream Maps” Reflecting on their Solar Youth experience Helping to lead another SY program Shadowing a Solar Youth intern Planning and leading their own trainings
Kids Explore! As part of every Solar Youth program season, youth not only have a chance to explore their local ecology, but also participate in out-of-neighborhood explorations. The Leaders-in-Training (LITs) were invited to all of the following trips where they were expected to serve as a role model for the younger youth, help them succeed and have fun. Many of the LIT youth stepped up to the challenge! Exploration West Rock Ridge State Park Campfire at West Rock Nature Center Over-the-Rock Hiking and Teambuilding at West Rock Park Hiking at East Rock Park Hiking at Bluff Point State Park Yale’s Peabody Museum Solar Star Trip at Mystic Aquarium (Organized and Led by LITs) End of Season Celebration at Clinton Ave School Afro American House at Yale and Miya's Sushi
Description Stewards from every Solar Youth team were represented during our fall kickoff hike, where we climbed to West Rock's summit and played at Judge's Cave. Almost 60 youth attended! Our annual night hike and campfire trip at our local park. Stewards used all of their senses to explore their world at night, and then enjoyed s’mores over the fire. Our two neighborhoods are located on either side of the park, so during a day off from school we had them meet at the top! Our "friendship trip" was designed to foster friendships between the two neighborhoods. Beginning with a romp through Rice Field, Stewards made their way up to Indian Head, and then onto East Rock’s famous Giant Steps, helping each other all the way up. At the summit, the group played games and created a Thank You banner in honor of Veterans’ Day. On a beautiful fall day, Stewards hiked over 3 miles to Bluff Point in Groton – the last remaining stretch of preserved land along the Long Island Sound in CT. From the “Bloodsuckers” exhibit on bedbugs and other creepy crawlies, to the gemstone room, to the exhibits on Native American culture, Stewards thoroughly enjoyed this day of learning. Stewards with perfect attendance throughout the season earned their spot on this special trip! Many were delighted to learn the differences between sea lions and seals, others were captivated by sting rays and jellyfish, but the stars of the day were the big beluga whales! Stewards celebrated another great season with an indoor carnival, complete with face painting, games, prizes, and dance contests. At the end, everyone received this season's Solar Youth t-shirt! The Leader's-in-Training reflected upon a great season at the AfAm House at Yale, prepared for their Public Education Forum presentation and then celebrated at Miya's Sushi.
Kids Do! During their weekly leadership training, LIT youth sign up for one leadership opportunity for the week, where they can practice their skills in real-life situtations, contribute their voice to other Solar Youth programs, and receive feedback through a rubric on how professional, helpful, kind and enthusiastic they were. Leadership Opportunity
Helping lead a program
LIT youth had the opportunity to help lead the other youth programs in their own neighborhood. They could help with the younger kids in Citycology, or act as a slightly older peer leader in Service Adventure and Steward Team. Some LITs had the opportunity to participate Green Jobs for the day, where they felt what it was like to be an intern with Solar Youth, further motivating them to continue with LIT. Youth attended and eventually ran their own planning meetings, where up to four LIT participants planned their next training or presentation and evaluated their own program. This dedicated space drastically raised their ownership over the program. Planning meetings eventually focused on planning the “Solar Star” trip - a special trip for Stewards in all programs who achieve perfect attendance over the season. Over 6 weeks, the planning members received the budget, proposed ideas, chose a location (Mystic Aquarium), called and made a group reservation, prepared the permission slip, organized the bus schedule, faxed the bus reservation, crafted an agenda for the day, split the Stewards into 7 groups, checked the weather, changed the voicemail, and packed the supplies. With 40 Stewards (including 5 interns), the trip was a huge success!
Sneak peak of internship program Planning their own program
Planning a trip
Kids Teach! Youth conclude the season by developing Public Education Projects (PEPs) that educate their peers, parents and general public about environmental and community issues they care about. By designing and executing a PEP, youth have the opportunity to be recognized as “experts” on important issues and “re-learn” important lessons from the earlier part of the season. Public Education Project
Wessel Award Presentation
The LITs planned and prepared a multimedia presentation, including songs, photos and live acting, to an audience of 40+ people, as our official Solar Youth presentation while we accepted the Wessel Prize for Unsung Community Heroes. The Leaders-in-Training from across the city shared what they’d learned and accomplished that season through poems, songs, and speeches.
Public Education Forum
Leaders-in-Training having fun and helping others while they Explore! Do! Teach!
Solar Youth’s Evaluation Process Solar Youth measures its programs with a combination of evaluation tools, including Pre/Post surveys, Portfolios (evidence of youth community service and public education work), Youth Feedback Forms, Family Feedback Forms, and Community Feedback Forms. The feedback forms are based on bestpractice evaluation tools developed by the Search Institute.
Feedback from Participating Youth and Parents CATEGORY
% OF YOUTH WHO AGREED
% OF PARENTS WHO AGREED
89% 90% 78%
80% 90% 90%
Youth Development Outcomes Prompt: Because of Solar Youth, I / my child … Empowerment
is valued by the community is given useful roles in the community
Commitment to Learning
is actively engaged in learning wants to do well in school
places a high value on helping others is more accountable for his/her actions
planning and decision making skills have improved has learned to be a better friend is more sensitive to the feelings of others
knowledge about the environment improved is more responsible about the effect he/she has on the environment
I would recommend Solar Youth to my friends/other parents I would like to (see my child) attend Solar Youth next season
Stewards enjoying the Mystic Aquarium trip that was planned by Leaders-in-Training
Quotes and Testimonials LIT Parents say: “Damaris has been a better sister at home with her brothers. She has helped them with more and now babysitting.” “Thank you Solar Youth for making my daughter a better person. She has improved a lot and cares a lot for the environment. You guys are the best.” “Her attitude is better, and she is more self-assertive than before she became an LIT.” “I think Solar Youth was and is a blessing for being out in this community because a lot of the young children have a place to go after school and they teach them a lot about being out in the world.” “Tyrese doesn't ever litter. He is appalled if he sees someone do it. He is an avid recycler at home and out in the community.”
“Solar Youth is the best! Our family loves the organization and is proud to share, and we do share, with others about experiences gained through the instruction and outings. Thanks for all you do for the children and environment! -Leaders-in-Training Parent
LIT Participants say: “I learned so much about the environment and want to learn MORE! I would love to join Solar Youth again in the future. Thanks Solar Youth.” “I learned from helping others that people really appreciate is when you help them.” “[Because of Solar Youth] I am a better person.”
Writing Samples from Leaders-in-Training
At the end of the season, the Leaders-in-Training came together to evaluate their program. In small groups, they came up with aspects of the program that they liked or didn’t like, and generated suggestions for next season. The ones they felt most strongly about are listed below: What we liked
What we didn’t like Lack of LIT trips Kids thinking we’re not important Not helping to organize trips (Barnard program) Some of the snacks Kids not respecting each other When we have to stop working because someone is not listening Some of the interns are on their phone and don’t help out People tease us for not getting paid
Being LITs Being back in Solar Youth Having some responsibility Hanging out with friends Working on ideas Sharing our feelings Going on trips Having people back who hadn’t been in program for a few years Helping with “Eco-31”, a green Halloween event [led by SY’s Green Job Interns] Being able to plan activities for other kids The application questions Suggestions Allow LITs to give “tallies” when youth break rules [currently only interns and educators can give tallies] Pick our own trips Make our own t-shirts Invite younger kids to a ‘pre-LIT’ session so they can see what it’s like Have a friendship camping trip Get together with other LIT programs more often Go on trips to buy new supplies End at 7pm instead of 6pm Start a vegetable garden Donuts for snack Pizza during trips Using coach busses instead of school busses Get paid a small amount – $30 every 2 weeks based on attendance and rubric – and reduce the number of LITs so we can still meet our budget
The coordinator also reflected on the season: What Worked Well Why Framing LIT as internship Gave a sense of purpose and direction to all activities and preparation program trainings Gave them an opportunity to practice their leadership and use Allowing LITs to help with program their Solar Youth experience in a real setting Gave them their own space to be with peers and form group Having a weekly LIT training session identity; allowed for trainings to prepare them for leadership
opportunities and to address performance issues Weekly planning committee Built in time for LITs to plan their own trainings and opportunities meeting and gain huge ownership of program Allowed youth voice in our “Solar Star trip”; developed their Planning field trip planning and decision making skills; clearly defined upgrade from Steward status Ingrained them to try to be “Kind, Helpful, Professional, and Having rubric based on values Enthusiastic”, rather than simply “participate, behave, be prepared.” Room for Improvement Why Some participants felt that they only had be a leader when they Create a sense of always were “officially helping” as an LIT, and therefore behaved poorly representing LIT other times We built in them a sense of specialness, since they were no Get LITs to still respect authority longer just Stewards. However, some youth felt they could disregard requests from interns and staff. No training or planning time for We currently don’t have the staffing, which deprives the Barnard Barnard LITs of the benefits previously mentioned Space in Westville Manor was not Training space was too far for them to walk to after dark; having ideal planning meetings upstairs blurred normally firm boundaries Suggestions Plan a college visit and a camping trip – for LITs only Have a Barnard LIT lunch once/week at their school Training on being an ambassador and LIT representative early in the season – include that they are still under intern and staff authority Have LITs wear their LIT polo shirt every time they come to any program or trip Switch or alternate space with Green Jobs Youth Development, which meets right below our Westville Manor Office Give “Youth Advisors” (LITs that have been promoted due to their previous performance) a small stipend Invite Advisors to come snack shopping with staff Modify our intern feedback form to measure stated LIT employability outcomes Find an implement a best-practice leadership measurement tool to assess stated LIT leadership outcomes
“Dream Map” created by one of the LIT members during orientation
The adventure trip checklist â€“ adapted and used by the LIT members to plan their trip