20 Dec Enrichment Beyond Education
Many youth dread the idea of taking educational classes during the summer, however, at the YOC many of the youth welcome the opportunity to think outside of the box in an educational setting throughout the summer months. The educational enrichment program is designed to keep youth engaged during the summer when they are no longer in school. Last summer, about 60 residents participated in the elective credit, credit classes, and remedial courses as part of their summer experiences. The courses, material, and projects are all catered to the youth in a way that best meets their own educational needs and interests.
While every class is designed in hopes that the youth might relate to or feel passionate about what they are learning, there are always surprises along the way. You never know how the youth will connect to certain lessons or projects, and what will come out of these connections. Last summer students earned an agriculture elective credit as part of the program. The goal was to teach a group of female residents about the aspects of the environment that they might not know much about and to encourage more sustainable living.
While the lesson plan was full of projects and videos, the educational assistant had no clue of the reaction she would get following the showing of a documentary about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. At the end of the video, the girls were completely silent,
“It was kind of an ‘ah-ha’ moment for the girls,” stated Megann Parkison, the education coordinator for the YOC, “They couldn’t fathom that children in Michigan are without clean water. They all wanted to do something to fix the problem.”
While the original plan was to move on to other agricultural topics, the educational assistant for the class really grabbed onto the girls’ passion for this topic. They ordered books about the crisis and spent the next few days discussing similar issues across the globe. “I think many of the girls could relate because they knew that kids were suffering from this crisis, and that is something they understand. In addition, the areas affected were mostly impoverished, which is something else most of these kids can relate to,” Parkinson stated.
At the conclusion of summer enrichment, the kids celebrated their successes with exhibits displayed of their various wooding working pieces, science experiments, and research projects they completed. The kids worked together on projects to show what they had studied in the course and to share this knowledge with staff across campus. This not only allows the youth to demonstrate what they had learned, but it also provided an opportunity for team-building amongst residents. Parkison stated, “Our educational assistants and staff are very creative and our kids flourish as a result of the non-traditional educational programming. Summer enrichment is very rewarding for staff and residents.”