Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Helping Young People Expand Their Horizons

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
Despite the reach that is provided by our new digital media, many young people are isolated from large sectors of their own community and positive visions of what they can become and accomplish as adults. Many are also unfamiliar with other places and cultures and lack a global awareness – an awareness they will need to have to be successful in the 21st century. Afterschool and summer programs are perfectly positioned to help young people expand their horizons through various activities that can be offered in these settings.
Pedro Noguera



“I would say that education always has to expand horizons for young people, to expand their sense of what’s possible.  One of the things we're constantly working against, particularly with young men of color, is the negative and pernicious effect of stereotypes - stereotypes which lead them to believe they have a better chance of being a ball player, or a rap star, than of being a scientist or a writer, or being an elected official or lawyer.


Part of expanding horizons means giving concrete experiences, which allow them to see and learn about how knowledge is applied in the real world, in professional settings, why in fact that is a course of action and a career path that they may want to choose, and most importantly, what does it take to get there? So that kind of work, of expanding the sense of what's possible, of exploiting the stereotypes, and of tapping into those that deeply seeded sense of identity is essential to the work of really capturing the imagination of young people.” 


– Pedro Noguera, Professor, UCLA, School of Education

What learning that EXPANDS HORIZONS looks like:
  • Young people are learning new things and about new places beyond their own experiences
  • Young people are learning from community members, by going out into the community and/or from activities that bring aspects of the community into the program
  • Young people participate in activities that actively promote an awareness of the global community 
  • Young people are engaged in activities that expand their notion of what they can become as adults

Seven things program leaders can do to begin promoting expanded horizons: 
1. Explore and assess: It is important that you take the time with your staff to explore and assess your alignment with this expands horizons principle. 

2. Invite a speaker from the community to come to your program: This can be most effective when the topic is linked to something the students are studying in school, or to a project they are working on in the program.  For example, if they are learning about the Civil Rights movement, you might invite neighbors who lived through those days to talk about what it was like. If they are studying butterflies, you might find a local entomologist to visit. Firefighters and other people with exciting jobs are always welcome speakers. Community colleges, museums, parks, volunteer centers, and community centers are all good places to start looking for speakers. 

3. Get out of the building: Any time you leave familiar space you are allowing young people to expand their horizons. Take a field trip to a regional park or museum. Visit a local establishment, service, or branch of government to learn how it works. Attend a program or activity at a local non-profit organization such as the Red Cross, Sierra Club, a social justice or civil rights organization, or a local arts center or library. Practice using public transportation, and let young people help figure out how to get where you are going.

4. Expand the participant’s knowledge of other groups and cultures: Start by educating yourself. Avoid tokenizing young people or others in your program or school by asking them to explain their culture. Instead, go to the library, look on the internet, attend local cultural events, and call or visit organizations promoting equity for the group you are researching. Learn what you can about the history, art, literature, music, food, celebrations, and struggles of a culture or group. Then help the young people in your program study different cultures and celebrate the contributions of different groups. You might learn about women, people of color, and gay people who have contributed to your neighborhood. Celebrate various holidays as they are celebrated in different countries. Celebrate Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Gay Pride Month, or Cesar Chavez’s Birthday. Young people can present what they’ve learned, and adults may be willing to share food, decorations, or music. Don’t make assumptions about what any particular person might share. Be sure that these celebrations are part of an ongoing process of inclusion and education, and that some groups aren’t just segregated to certain ‘diversity days.’

5. Career and educational exploration: It is important that we help young people think in new ways about what they could become as adults. This means exposing young people to professionals and possible careers. This can be done by inviting working community members to offer presentations to your group, by visiting businesses out in the community, and career exploration activities that include job shadowing and internships. (See Curricula and Compilations of Activities below.) 

Because many careers require training or education after high school, consider activities that have young people see higher education as something that is reachable and achievable. This includes bringing in speakers who have succeed in post-secondary education, forming relationships with college fraternities or sororities, visiting local colleges, and helping youth and their families access information regarding financial assistance and entrance requirements. 

6. Global awareness: Plan activities that increase young people’s exposure and knowledge of other countries and cultures. Virtual Vacation is one of several curriculums that can assist staff in designing experiences for young people. The Virtual Vacation Leader’s Guide is available for purchase here: http://www.temescalassociates.com/resources/resourcestemescal.asp. Afterschool for the Global Age and other resources are available at the Asia Society website (asiasociety.org). 

7. Internships: For older youth who have shown a passion in a specific area, look for community partners who would be willing to accept an intern. Internships allow young people to advance their mastery and to see how they could use their new skills in a real-life work environment. 88 It is important that the young people as well as the businesses are prepared in advance and are very clear about the expectations. Visit other programs that have successfully introduced internships and take advantage of articles and curriculum that have been published to assist programs that are just launching internship programs. 

Below is a good program example of expanding horizons:
After School All-Stars (K -12), serves 90,000 students 468 Title I school sites in 20 major cities across the Country. CampUs, is  a middle to high school Summer Transition program they run as part of their We Are Ready initiative: 

Participants camp out at a college campus such as U of Hawaii, UCLA and Ohio State, for 6 days so that they can learn all about what life is like in high school and college. While on campus, they live in dorms, are taught study skills and about the SATs, they create their own personalized 4-year plans, and they learn what requirements need to be met for graduation. Participants have the opportunity to pick majors and they learn about careers connected to those majors through guest speakers. They are asked to complete a mock college application which includes an essay, resume, recommendation letter, and in-person interview, and take part in a mock acceptance ceremony on the last day, held by the All-Stars staff. They meet and  are mentored by current college students. This allows the participants to visualize the process and understand how all the steps connect. 



Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Afterschool Learning that Supports Mastery

By Sam Piha
Sam Piha

Young people tell us they are most engaged when they are given opportunities to learn new skills. If young people are to learn the importance and joy of mastery, they need the opportunity to learn and practice a full sequence of skills that will allow them to become “really good at something.” 

Afterschool activities should not promote the gathering of random knowledge and skills. Rather, afterschool learning activities should be explicitly sequenced and designed to promote the layering of skills that allows participants to create a product or demonstrate mastery in a way they couldn’t do before. 

Programs often achieve this by designing activities that lead to a culminating event or product that can be viewed and celebrated by peers and family members. For older youth, many programs are depending on apprenticeship models to assist youth in achieving a sense of mastery.

Designing programs that allow young people to fully experience mastery requires a belief by the adults that young people of all ages can persist in building a complex sequence of skills, especially in areas that they have a passion for. This means allowing young people to make mistakes, to sometimes fail, and giving the support they need to persist.     

What learning that SUPPORTS MASTERY looks like:

  • Young people are learning and practicing new skills
  • Young people are learning skills that are sequenced and build on previously learned skills, leading to a greater mastery 
  • Young people are working toward culminating activities that demonstrate their mastery through a final product or presentation
  • Young people appear challenged and engaged by the activities. They appear focused and absorbed by the activity

Source: Stacey Daraio, Temescal Associates

Five things you can do right now:
1. Explore and assess: It is important that you take the time with your staff to explore and assess your alignment with this supports mastery principle. 

2. Plan for the skills and knowledge you want your participants to acquire in your program: Often when planning programs, staff people go straight to lining up activities to fill a determined stretch of time, without thinking through what the learning goals are for a project or the overall program. Instead of identifying activities, work with staff to determine what kinds of knowledge and skills you want your young people to acquire over time through their participation in your program. They might be academic skills, study skills, leadership or team skills. Now, consider what kinds of experiences and activities you can provide over time that will meet your learning agenda. Don’t feel like you have to do it alone! You can use or adapt curriculum materials to align with your participants’ interests and needs, and draw on teachers and others around you who may have more experience in planning against learning outcomes. Don’t forget to sequence the skills from easier to more difficult, and to allow the skills to build on one another.  

3. Culminating activities: Take a look at your different “clubs” and determine which clubs would allow young people to host a culminating activity where they can showcase their newfound skills and/or finished products. For instance, a club studying dance or rap could host an end-of-term performance. Those engaging in activities that featured art could host a viewing of their artwork. Having a culminating activity motivates young people to hone their skills and receive recognition for their accomplishments.  After a successful event, the positive effect on a group’s sense of community and the individuals’ experience of accomplishment can be quite profound.

4. Advanced clubs: With your staff, consider whether current clubs can be followed by advanced clubs – clubs that allow young people to continue to gain new knowledge and skills in an area that they have high interest. For instance, a video club where young people learn how to use introductory video software could be followed by an advanced club where they learn more advanced software, or moved onto learning how to create soundtracks or digital special effects. 

5. Internships: For older youth who have shown a passion in a specific area, look for community partners who would be willing to accept an intern. Internships allow young people to advance their mastery and to see how they could use their new skills in a real-life work environment. It is important that the young people as well as the businesses are prepared in advance and are very clear about the expectations. Visit other programs that have successfully introduced internships and take advantage of articles and curriculum that have been published to assist programs that are just launching internship programs.   

Below is a good program example of "supporting mastery":
Youth Institute (community-based); (Grades 8 – 10); YMCA of Greater Long Beach; Long Beach, CA   

The Summer Youth Institute is focused on the process of digital movie-making which requires pre-production, production and post production work. The Youth Institute operates 8 hours a day, Monday through Friday for eight weeks. The youth are placed in production groups and operate in a collaborative learning environment throughout the summer. These groups are very diverse with no majority - gender, ethnic/race, age, or grade level. They have had executive briefings at Apple, Pixar, Google and EA Sports and all the executives, according to Youth Institute leaders, say the same thing, "We want employees who CAN work in DIVERSE groups. If you can't work in a diverse group, you will not work here long."


Source: Youth Institute, Long Beach

Each production group in the Youth Institute creates a short film, teen magazine, website, music production and 3D printing and product design. This work teaches youth critical, sequential, spatial, and analytical thinking, along with group work and problem solving skills. The process of making a movie is also project and product-based. Digital movie-making, if done right and well, demonstrates all of the Learning in Afterschool and Summer Learning Principles. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Youth Activism and Social Media

By Sam Piha

Since the school shooting in Parkland, FL and the response of young people to gun violence, we have all become more aware of youth activism and civic engagement. We were curious about how youth have been involved historically in social movements, and the effect of social media on social movements. Thus, we interviewed Gordon Alexandre, a historian and activist about these questions. You can see below some of his responses. 

Q: In the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, FL, there has been a spotlight on youth activism. Are there other contemporary social movements that have attracted the participation of young people?


Gordon Alexandre
A: When one looks at political activism right now, young people are not the primary movers. The #MeToo movement has eclipsed all other, for the moment, and it is not primarily youth driven. The labor movement has also had a resurgence lately and it, too, is not youth driven. In addition, much emphasis was placed on getting young people to vote in the 2018 mid-terms and neither those getting young people to vote nor young people voting is, in and of itself, a sign of social activism. 

Voting is an institutional response within the bounds of expected behavior and not an ‘outsiders’ response of social activism. This is not to say that the spotlight won’t return to youth activism. It’s just not there right now.


Photo source: wsj.com
Q: There has been much discussion on the role of technology and social media in contemporary social movements. What do you believe are the pros and cons of technology-driven social movements? 

A: I do not believe social media drives social justice movements. Technology can assist social movements - spreading the word, capturing events in real time, encouraging folks to get out and protest, and the like. What drives social movements are causes themselves being fought for and the personal relationships developed between those involved. 

Technology is not a substitute for the bonds developed during political struggle and the movement culture that results from that. To do this, people need to be brought together whether it be the union halls of the 1930’s, the black churches of the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s, and the anti-Vietnam War movement on college campuses in the 1960’s. Also in the 1960’s we saw the importance of gay night clubs of the gay rights movement and women’s consciousness raising groups of the women’s empowerment movement. More recently, we have seen activism around the issues of gun control and “get out the vote” efforts on high school campuses. 

Some would say that today’s social media is the equivalent to yesterday’s black churches or college campuses. It is not. Communicating with someone on social media is ‘virtual’ and you cannot have a ‘virtual’ social movement and movement culture.

Q: Looking back in our history, are there other social movements that have attracted the participation of young people? 

A. Young people have been the main participants in social justice movements since, but not before, the 1960’s. Most of the activists in the civil rights movement were young. MLK was in his mid-twenties when he burst onto the scene in 1955.

The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) initiated many non-violent acts of civil disobedience that was the ‘bread and butter’ of the civil rights movement. Students For A Democratic Society (SDS) was the main anti-Vietnam War organization on college campuses in the 1960’s. 

The feminist movement and gay empowerment movement were also led by young people. Later on, the environmental movement of the 1970’s and after, the anti-World Trade Organization movement of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, and Occupy Wall Street of 2011 were all youth driven, with varying degrees of success. 


Photo source: http://hillswestroundup.com

Q: What do you believe are the pros and cons of young people participating in social movements? Does it matter what age the young people are? 

A: The advantages of youth driven social protest movements are varied and many. Young people have passion, energy, time, and not much to lose. They often possess the idealism and optimism that often accompanies youthful inexperience. They can take more risks with fewer consequences. 

On the other hand, they often lack the virtue of patience, wisdom, and experience, all of which are necessary for success in the long run. Obviously, the best recipe for a social movement is to combine the advantages of youth with the advantages of those who have engaged in social movements in the past. But this much easier said than done.


---------------------------------
Gordon Alexandre taught U.S. history and political science at Glendale Community College (outside Los Angeles) from 1985 to 2015. His main area of interest was on social reform movements of the Twentieth Century. While at GCC, Gordon was either chief negotiator or president of their American Federation of Teachers chapter for twenty years. Prior to his teaching, Gordon was a labor organizer and activist. Since retiring in 2015, Gordon has delivered several lectures to graduate students at Antioch University on “Trumpism: A Historical Perspective” and “Student Protest Movements: 1968 to 2018". Gordon is also featured in the video documentary, the History of Afterschool in America.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Learning Collaboratively is the Future

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha


It is important that young people develop the skills and have opportunities to practice working collaboratively with diverse groups, other youth, and community members. Business leaders tell us that the ability to work collaboratively with others and in teams is a primary skill for 21st Century workers. 

We concede that teaching these skills and having kids work in teams takes more planning and group management than having kids work independently. Thus, it is important that youth workers believe that working in teams allow young people to form a stronger sense of belonging, understand the value they can bring to a common goal, and work “smarter” than when working alone. 

Source: Stacey Daraio, Temescal Associates


What COLLABORATIVE learning looks like:
  • Young people work in groups and practice group skills (e.g., actively listen, contribute ideas or actions to the group, take responsibility for a part)
  • Young people work in groups that have a clear purpose and all group members cooperate in accomplishing it and demonstrate a sense of shared accountability to one another and for self
  • Young people assist one another in their learning and act cooperatively 
  • When working in groups every member contributes his or her individual talents
  • When minor conflicts occur, young people are able to problem-solve together to resolve conflicts without adult intervention 

Important Experiences and Skills
Successful collaborative learning takes skills and practice, and requires that the group members are able to engage in activities in a teamwork setting. Also important are establishing an environment where participants feel safe, but challenged and keeping the groups small enough so that all can contribute. 

Social skills for effective cooperative work do not magically appear when cooperative lessons are employed. Instead, social skills must be taught to students just as purposefully and precisely as academic skills. Leadership, decision-making, trust-building, communication, and conflict-management skills empower students to manage both teamwork and taskwork successfully.


Seven things you can do right now to begin promoting collaborative learning:

1. Explore and assess: It is important that you take the time with your staff to explore and assess your alignment with this learning principle.

2. Building a sense of emotional safety: If we expect young people to work positively with one another, there needs to be a sense of trust and safety between them. It is helpful if the group can contribute to a set of group agreements of how they want to be treated by each other. It is important that one of these agreements is “no put-downs” – that when young people disagree or express their opinions, this does not include calling a person a name or any interaction that would cause a person to close down. Promise that you will help them remember and let them know that they can remind each other as well.

3. Active listening through “check-in circles”: You can develop the listening skills of your youth by conducting “check-in circles” at the beginning of your program. This is the time when every participant has the opportunity to briefly share something with the group or respond to a question posed by the group leader. When you first start instituting the check-in circle, it helps to plan a safe and interesting check-in question, such as, “What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?” or “If you could go anywhere in the world for one day, where would you go?”. Later on, after some practice, you might have each person share one thing about their day or say how the group is working together. You can make use of a “talking” stick or other objects that the speaker holds and only the person holding the object has permission to talk. Everyone else practices active listening by giving eye contact and not distracting the speaker in any way. People with comments or questions can then raise their hands, only when the speaker is finished. 

4. Team-building games: In order for young people to work collaboratively with their peers, it is important that they form a positive sense of belonging with the group. This can be built over time using team-building games to foster a positive sense of group and help kids become accustomed to working positively in small groups and working on a common goal. Program staff can draw upon printed curriculum or activity books and begin by leading group games in the beginning of the year. 

5. Resolving conflicts: Teach a specific protocol that all children can demonstrate and use when they have a difference with a peer that is problematic. When young people have the skills to resolve conflict in healthy and respectful ways, they are kinder and happier, and require less adult intervention. They also feel safer in the after-school program knowing that they can solve problems together and that they can get help if they need it. You can also train “conflict managers” to help peers or younger children resolve conflict. They also feel safer in the after-school program knowing that they can solve problems together and that they can get help if they need it. 

6. Building collaborative skills – brainstorming, prioritizing, and forging agreements: These are things you can teach during your check-in circle. Involve your youth in decision-making, such as the kind of snacks to be served or things to do on “free Fridays”. Allow all the youth to share their idea. “Every idea is a good idea” – let them know in brainstorming that all ideas are to be respectfully accepted. A good brainstorm session collects more ideas than can be used. To prioritize, youth can vote using colored stickers, with each youth having three stickers to place alongside their favorite ideas. The ideas that have received the greatest number of stickers are the ones that will be used. 


7. Begin slowly: Begin with simple collaborative projects that can be completed within one session before moving on to more complex projects.



Tuesday, April 9, 2019

What does new brain science tell us about collaborative learning?

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
Dr. Judy Willis is a board certified neurologist, who turned her attention to becoming a classroom teacher. Her goal was to apply what she knew about the brain and learning to strategies that could be developed for the classroom. She is now an educational consultant who speaks to groups of people from around the world about the interface between the new knowledge of neuroscience and learning. We were particularly interested in her work regarding why collaborative learning works. 




What does new brain science tell us about collaborative learning? 
Dr. Judy Willis
When youth participate in engaging learning activities in well-designed, supportive cooperative groups, their affective filters are not blocking the flow of knowledge. When you plan your group such that each member’s strengths have authentic importance to the ultimate success of the group’s activity, you have created a situation where individual learning styles, skills, and talents are valued and youth shine in their fortes and learn from each other in the areas where they are not as expert. They call on each other's guidance to solve pertinent and compelling problems and develop their interpersonal skills by communicating their ideas to partners. 

The brain scans of subjects learning in this type of supportive and social learning situation show facilitated passage of information from the intake areas into the memory storage regions of the brain. This is consistent with the original cognitive psychology research and theories of Steven Krashen about the affective filter - that learning associated with positive emotion is retained longer and visa versa.

Many of the motivating factors that have been found to release dopamine are intrinsic to successful cooperative or collaborative group work such as social collaboration, motivation, and expectation of success or authentic praise from peers. Because dopamine is also the neurotransmitter associated with attention, memory, learning, and executive function, it follows that when the brain releases dopamine during or in expectation of a pleasurable experience or reward, that this dopamine will be available to increase the processing of new information. That is what occurs when a young person enjoys a positive cooperative learning experience, and even when s/he anticipates participation in that type of activity sometime during the class or program.

Successfully planned group work can help to support adolescent youth by reducing a fear of failure that can cause them to avoid academic challenges. Well-structured cooperative group activities build supportive peer communities, which in turn increase self-esteem and academic performance.” 

– Dr. Judy Willis, Neurologist and Classroom Teacher

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Youth Speak About the Importance of Afterschool

By Guest Blogger, Stu Semigran, EduCare Foundation


Stu Semigran
When FOX TV (Los Angeles affiliate) asked local high school students to speak about the importance of Afterschool Programs, they said "Yes!" On Sunday, March 24, Alvaro Cortes, Senior Executive Director of LAUSD's Beyond the Bell – along with students Abigail Miranda (Sylmar HS) and Lynn Kim (North Hollywood HS) – talked with Hal Eisner, the host of FOX 11's News in Depth.



They told Eisner how much Afterschool Programs have meant to them and their fellow students. They stated what a drastic blow it would be if there should be a cut to funding for these critical programs. Both Abigail and Lynn were articulate and passionate, and spoke from their hearts. All of the state's high school afterschool programs would be eliminated if President Trump's budget is approved. According to Abigail's EduCare Site Coordinator, Viancha Carchi, everyone listening was touched by her story. We're sure you will be, too! 





To see a brief clip of the broadcast, click here.

 To view the full segment which  aired on Sunday, March 24, click here.




-------------
Stu Semigran is the co-founder and president of EduCare Foundation and the executive director of EduCare’s ACE (Achievement and Commitment to Excellence) Student Success Program. Currently providing student support services at more than 100 high schools and middle schools in Southern California, EduCare also is the grant manager for the ASSETs after school programs at 17 LAUSD Beyond the Bell high schools and 1 middle school. Over 30,000 students are served each year through EduCare afterschool and youth development programs.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

GRIT: Thinking More Deeply

By Sam Piha

Angela Duckworth’s "grit" has captured the imagination of educators, youth program leaders, and policymakers alike, leading many to agree that we should seek to cultivate grit in our youth. According to The Character Lab, grit is correlated with success and defined as "perseverance and passion for long-term goals”. It was further popularized by author Paul Tough (How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, 2012) and others. 


Source: eschoolnews.com


Like others, we have written a lot about grit in our LIAS blog. But others have called on us to look more closely at the notion of grit and how it intersects with issues of bias, poverty, inequality, deficit thinking, and race.
"Educational outcome disparities are not the result of deficiencies in marginalized communities' cultures, mindsets, or grittiness, but rather of inequities."
- Paul Gorski in Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty

We believe that we can think more deeply about grit by reviewing these writings below:



Tuesday, March 19, 2019

HERE WE GO AGAIN: Trump says eliminate afterschool in 2020!

Source: pressfrom.info

By Sam Piha


Sam Piha
Afterschool programs are now a part of the community landscape. Afterschool has been around for over a hundred years, making important contributions to families and the larger society. 

This next year, under President Trump, federal support of afterschool is again threatened. According to our partners at the Afterschool Alliance



“President Trump’s budget calls for eliminating federal funding for local afterschool and summer programs. If the funding is not maintained, nearly two million children and families would be left without reliable afterschool choices.  
More than 19 million families want and need more afterschool and summer learning opportunities. For every child in a program, two are waiting to get in. Closing 10,000+ afterschool programs will hurt families and children in every part of the country. 
You can make a difference: call on Congress to protect funding for afterschool and summer learning programs.”

According to the Trump Administration budget summary, the justification for eliminating the 21st CCLC is, “This program (21st CCLC) lacks strong evidence of meeting its objectives, such as improving student achievement.” Research has shown that this is patently untrue. 

The Afterschool Alliance has made it easy to tell your representatives in Congress to stand up for the programs America's children and families rely on. CLICK HERE


Source: CalSAC


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week

Source: National AfterSchool Association
By Sam Piha

Afterschool programs are now a part of the community landscape, with over 10.2 million young participants. Few are even aware that afterschool has been around for over a hundred years, making important contributions to families and the larger society.

Afterschool professionals, numbering over 850,000, are often not acknowledged. But we can change that! Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week is April 22-26. 

According to the National AfterSchool Association (NAA), “this is a joint effort of community partners, afterschool programs, youth and child development workers and individuals who have committed to declaring the last full week of April each year as a time to recognize and appreciate those who work with youth during out-of-school hours.” 

There are a number of ways organizations, schools, parents and program leaders can recognize and appreciate afterschool workers: 

  • Issue an appreciation shout out 
  • “Thank you” card for afterschool program staff 
  • Watch and share the brief Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week video produced by NAA


  • Plan a “Thank You” activity or event 
  • Appreciate the long history and contributions of afterschool youth programs in America: Few are aware that afterschool has been around for over a hundred years, making important contributions to families and the larger society. To ensure that afterschool stakeholders appreciate the long history of afterschool youth programs in America, Temescal Associates and the How Kids Learn Foundation have created a video to document this history, as well as a trailer, media kit and learning guide. 

Join in the celebrations and display your appreciation of afterschool professionals who make a difference in the lives of young people. NAA has developed a toolkit and a number of ideas for AfterSchool Professionals Appreciation Week. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

An Interview with Ivan Garcia, Youth Activist

By Sam Piha

Ivan Garcia
Ivan Garcia is a youth activist in Oakland. We first heard about Ivan’s work through a program by a local NPR station. This program was later turned into a brief video. At the How Kids Learn VIII conference, Ivan was a presenter and panelist on the subject of youth activism. 


We interviewed Ivan and some of his responses are below. 

Q: How did you become active in social causes?

A: I first became involved in 2016, following the Presidential Election. All my classmates and I felt that we needed to speak up and use our voices to share our opinions. I took it upon myself, to create a class video, titled “Dear Mr. Trump” which is a video of our opinions, fears, and hopes for President-Elect Donald Trump at the time. The video has now garnered over 4,000 views and it served as a way for me to connect with many young people who felt as though their voices weren’t being heard.

Q: What are you doing currently?

A: Currently, I serve on the Oakland Youth Commission, serve on the Youth Advisory Board for Youth + Tech + Health, and am an intern for Mayor Libby Schaaf. The Oakland Youth Commission is a group of young people who advise the City Council and Mayor on issues affecting youth in Oakland. With that also comes the task of writing policy and doing lots of outreach to community groups. Youth + Tech + Health, is an organization that provides mental health and sexual health resources to young people all around the world, especially developing nations. Most recently, I helped with a text campaign they have going on in Honduras currently, which tackles the issue of teen dating violence. Lastly, working with the Mayors office, I have a chance to hear from many constituents and learn the inner workings of City Hall.

“I love Ivan. He's a leader. I can't wait for him to sit in my office. And I mean be the mayor. He's going to be an amazing mayor.
And maybe [to Ivan] you're going to bring your talents to some better pursuit besides politics. Whatever it's gonna be, it's gonna be amazing. And you always do it, Ivan, with love and respect.”
-Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf

Q:In your view, why is youth voice and youth activism important? 

A: Youth activism, in my view is crucial as it gives young people the opportunity to have their voice heard while expressing themselves in a way that is unique. Being an “activist” can be anything from being an artist to working with lawmakers to create policies that will benefit all people. It also equips youth with many skills that are essential, such as networking, organizing, public speaking, and much more. It’s important for young people to feel as though they have a say in the policies that will affect them in the long run.

Ivan Garcia at HKL VIII Conference
Q: What advice do you have for afterschool programs who want to provide opportunities for youth to become actively involved?

A: I would tell afterschool programs to give students the freedom to try different methods of expression. Don’t limit a young person’s perspective and provide safe spaces where they can feel free to be themselves. Creating an environment that encourages truth and honesty can go a long way for young people who want to be active in their communities. Furthermore, I think it’s important to note that adult allies, should support the work of young people, but not take over and determine the way that work should be done. That should be done by the students, themselves. Lastly, bring people in who are doing this work as an example to motivate other students. It’s not a competition, but it’s one way that students can often see what’s possible when they think about more than just themselves.

Q: What activities and issues do you think youth are most interested in? 

A: Most recently, I think youth have been invested in gun violence, given the many incidents that have rocked our nation. Following Parkland, many young people created groups and organizations that are still doing meaningful work in their communities. Some other areas of interest for youth, I think are: criminal justice reform, sexual assault and harassment, and education (especially in places where schools are underfunded and under resourced).

Q: Looking ahead, what are your plans for continuing your activism? 

A: To be honest, I’m not quite sure what plans I have next. Lately, I’ve taken a step back from some of the work I was previously doing and have engaged in deep discussions with many of my peers. It’s been humbling to be in spaces with people my age, discussing things that matter to us. I hope to continue to touch the hearts of people along the way and work on a project that helps all young people find what it is that they love to do and are inspired by.

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Ivan Garcia is a freshman at Head-Royce School in Oakland. Ivan is a member of the Oakland Youth Advisory Committee. He played a key role in the March for Our Lives Oakland rally and is a Youth Ambassador for Litterati, an app that makes it easy for anyone to create an environmental impact around the world. Ivan is proud to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community. He hopes to inspire others to love themselves for who they are and fight for a better tomorrow.

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