NWBRV Youth Programs develop strong, young leaders by integrating service learning into our curriculum and enrichment programs because we believe strong resident leaders are needed to help create rich, active neighborhoods and youth play a critical role as up-and-coming leaders in our communities.
We use GenerationOn as the base model for our programs. The model:
- Helps young people learn to volunteer and give from an early age by providing and promoting meaningful service opportunities that accommodate a wide range of ages, abilities and interests.
- Generates valuable resources for schools and teachers in under-served communities, and engage youth and families in helping their broader community.
- Provides a continuum of youth-service projects, lesson plans, and curriculum that span the full breadth of development – from early childhood through high school.
- Reaches kids, families, schools, educators and community youth organizations.
A project-based approach
Participants learn how to lead while they plan and implement projects, as well as mentor younger students in their neighborhoods. They also engage in development activities such as resume writing, public speaking, and team-building throughout the year.
Just a few service projects NWBRV youth leaders have engaged in over the years include:
- The Fairmount Friends Winter Clothing Drive: Partnering with Coleman and Fifth Ave. Elementary Schools, the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, and Learn and Serve America, YIP collected more than 200 pieces of winter clothing for local families in need. Our youth not only gathered clothing but formulated an environmentally-friendly laundry detergent to clean the clothing and then sorted it all prior to donation.
- The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration: Youth leaders work with community partners to plan and execute the annual MLK Day Celebration each January. They meet regularly from October to January and act as liaisons to school partners and local youth to help make the event successful. During the event, they also serve as spokespeople to local media and dignitaries.
- Our Neighborhoods: In 2008, NWBRV became the first site in the country to have youth engaged as interviewers in its neighborhood-level planning and action initiative. Youth interviewed were asked to interview a peer and mentor from the project’s three target neighborhoods and reported their findings back in a group meeting. In response to interview feedback, youth then identified community projects they could take immediate action on… and did. From vandalism removal to changes in how youth programming is delivered to neighborhood youth, the teens led the way and inspired others to take action with them.
- Vandalism Removal: Youth have led several vandalism removal projects at neighborhood parks. They created a mural in the gazebo at Costa Park to prevent future gang and drug tagging in the spring of 2009. They spent a hot summer day later that year with the Woonsocket Police Department, as well as the City’s Parks and Recreation Department, cleaning and removing additional vandalism from park walkways and benches. Finally, youth worked with mentors from the Police Department and the Woonsocket After School Coalition to cover vandalism at the site of the future community mural at Dunn Park during the summer of 2010.
- Earth Day/Week: Youth leaders work especially hard during April vacation as part of Keep the Blackstone Valley Beautiful efforts. In 2010, youth from NWBRV, along with peers from Riverzedge Arts, led teams of younger youth in clean ups of Constitution Hill, Fairmount, and Main Street that resulted in over 80 tires collected from the Blackstone River, 400 bags of trash and litter from around the neighborhood, 1000 pounds of bulk trash removed.
- Trick-or-Treat So Others Can Eat: In October of 2008 and again in October of 2012, youth led a nonperishable food collection drive to support the Community Care Alliance’s (formerly Family Resources Community Action) Family Homeless Shelter on Sayles St. in Woonsocket. Instead of trick-or-treating for candy, the youth gathered their peers, siblings, and parents to collect over 200 nonperishable food items that they then donated to those in need.
- Shelter Walk: Annually, our partners at the Community Care Alliance (formerly Family Resources Community Action) gather in a fundraiser benefiting their Family Homeless Shelter on Sayles St. in Woonsocket. Youth Leaders organize a team each year and strive to bring awareness about homelessness to their peers by raising funds and walking to support the shelter.
We’re always looking for good ideas and mentors…
We always welcome ideas and collaborations for community projects. We provide the youth and supervision; you can provide the challenge. Our youth can always benefit from more wise mentors, too. A good project for your staff? Contact Flore Rateau, Senior Youth Programs Manager, by email or by phone at 401-762-0993 ext. 232.