On Monday, June 29, the Braddock Youth Project Summer Term officially began. Around 8:30 AM, adolescents aged fourteen through seventeen began walking through the door; an hour later, their numbers swelled to around seventy. One by one, the youth stopped by the front desk, where Kimmi Ferry and Katie Lutzker assisted them in signing themselves in and filling out name tags. For most of these kids, this was the first work day of their lives.
We were also reunited with the BYP Youth from the school year term, now serving as interns; it was a joy to get to see all of them again. Pictured below are Chris Mullen (wearing sunglasses, seated front left), Essence Yancy (wearing a grey top, seated to the right of Chris), and Chawntay Doss (wearing a pink shirt, standing to the right).
Upon signing in, the youth sat down and began to fill out short surveys in which they were asked to write a word or short phrase to represent their hopes or expectations for the summer. Their responses informed the first group activity of the day: The Snowball Game.
Jessi Schmid had everyone stand in a circle, crumple up their surveys, and throw them into the middle of the floor. The youth then proceeded to pick up a random survey and represent its contents.
They were first instructed to gather into groups based on age. Having done this, they were then instructed to gather into groups based on their level of excitement with regards to the Summer Term.
Pictured above are the youth as they transition to their different groups.
The purpose of the activity-specifically, the ‘anonymization’ of the surveys-is to foster an honest representation of said surveys’ contents. If a certain youth is feeling uncertain about the Summer Term, they’re not very likely to boldly go and stand with the ‘Uncertain’ group due to concern about how they might be perceived by their peer group. This activity overcomes this complication because everyone is merely representing another person’s opinion. It’s not ‘personal’, in other words.
The rest of the day was dedicated to trainings. The youth were informed about payment and led through various workshops intended to instill an understanding of a professional environment, and how one should behave therein.
Lastly, we took their hopes and expectations from the surveys and compiled them into a chart. The more frequent a response, the larger it appears on the chart. “Fun” and “Money” were tied for first.
Speaking personally, it’s a privilege and an honor to be able to play a role in giving adolescents their first professional experience. All of us-the coordinators and the team leaders-have worked very hard to create a challenging, educational and fun experience for the youth this summer, and we are all very excited to impart our knowledge and skills.
Media Team Coordinator, BYP