YOUTH THRIVE BY GIVING TO THE COMMUNITY
Building a walking trail, constructing benches and picnic tables, and clearing brush from a 5 acre historic site in White Co., TN are just some of the volunteer tasks undertaken by youth from UCHRA
(Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency) congregate care facilities this winter and spring. In a partnership with the Bonn Air Mt. Historical Society,UCHRA youth are helping create a public park on the long neglected site of an historic 19th century strip mining operation. UCHRA youth volunteers have been able to see the "before"---land choked with trash, brush and trees downed in last winter's ice storms---and will contribute to the "after"---a park with seating and picnic areas, attractive landscaping, and signs explaining historic landmarks.
"The way this project connects youth to real work in the community is relevant to our vocational program and fits with the service learning aspect of our TOP®
program," said UCHRA's Director of Residential Services, Brian Swearengen. "Most all the youth have loved it. One young man didn't want to go home on a weekend pass because he'd miss clearing brush and digging ditches at the historic site! When his dad and granddad returned him to our facility, they thanked us for instilling a work ethic in their son."
Youth have been excited to find items of historic value on the property--- antique shoes, metal tools, glass jars. They have turned them over to the Historical Society and their names will be among those listed on signage recognizing donors to the Society.
The new federal Strengthening Families Act, with its "normalcy" standard for youth in care, recognizes that participation in extracurricular activities--like the UCHRA project--can change the life course for many young people and prepare them for a successful transition to adulthood. Such projects are developmentally appropriate experiences for youth and help them imagine a positive future for themselves.
Photo: Jonna Laidlaw
Supplemental Staff Development Available for Staff at TOP® Agencies
Oasis Center is now offering a free, 3 hour supplemental Positive Youth Development (PYD) training for staff at agencies implementing TOP®. The purpose of the training is to orient direct care or other staff---those not implementing TOP®---to what TOP® is, how they can be supportive, and to the basics of a Positive Youth Development approach. Staff will come away with tools they can use to interact with youth in a more positive, strengths-based manner. Upon request, Oasis trainers will come to your site to offer the training. For more info or to schedule the PYD training, contact your Oasis Center Manager.