From June to August, the Youth Ambassador Program was held for the first time by the Three Rivers Community Foundation. Five high school students were trained by TRCF’s Youth Empowerment Interns on how to be ambassadors for diversity and inclusion. The program came to a close on August 2, 2011 where the Ambassadors held their last teaching session with 9-12 year old students at the YMCA Summer camps. This was the final round in a series of three sessions that the Ambassadors facilitated. Each session was a rewarding experience for the Youth Ambassadors as they learned what children would react to and what games were most effective.
I observed the last teaching session at the YMCA center in Oakland. In this last teaching session the Youth Ambassadors taught a group of at least 12 middle school children about the idea of home base. They started the session with a game similar to musical chairs but instead of chairs they used a large blanket where everyone had to get on the blanket when the music stops. The funny part of the game was that the blanket gets smaller and smaller. Once it gets smaller the kids had to work together to get everyone onto the blanket. The idea of the game was about working together as a team when it comes to difficult situations.
The Ambassadors also did a comic strip scenario activity with the students. This activity was a model taught by TRCF’s Youth Empowerment Interns earlier in the program. The Ambassadors presented comic strips about a certain situation and got the students to collaboratively discuss what the right choice was to make everyone happy and to get everyone out of the difficult situation being presented from the comic strips. The students also learned the difference between a negative response and a positive response through the comic strips. The students were then put into groups to discuss comic strips scenarios that they were given. They discussed what the positive and negative responses were for their scenario and a few of the youth presented their discussion to the group.
Learning about these values at a young ageis important because the students can incorporate this message when they get older and will be more likely be inspired to create change for the good. Students can take this lesson with them in whatever situation they deal with, whether it is in school, at home, the playground, etc.
The Youth Ambassador Program had a successful first year and they are hoping to run it in concurrent years out in the surrounding counties. Any high school student interested in spreading the message of inclusiveness and of respecting each other’s differences can have the opportunity to join the Youth Ambassador Program. Summer 2012 Applications will be out in April. Hope to see you next year!