How we Work
There are few organizations whose sole focus is to improve and/or enhance communications skills among youth. Our program model builds on and emphasizes the strengths of the young participants, not their deficiencies. It also seeks to involve numerous community members, including, but not limited to, family, corporate, church, school, non-profit, and other stakeholders.
Clinical Psychologist James Pennebaker, of The University of Texas at Austin, is the leading researcher in the area of using journaling for physical and mental health. Pennebaker’s research suggests that writing strengthens one’s immune system as well as one’s mind. 3 Consistent with those findings, BYL participants will keep either a hard copy, or online journal, of their experiences throughout their time with BYL.
Soft Skills Development/Work-based Learning
According to research from the America’s Promise Alliance (a foundation founded by former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell to enlist volunteers to assist children and youth at all socio-economic levels), schools, communities, and corporations cannot afford to focus solely on academic outcomes. Applied skills are essential to personal economic success and to the success of Corporate America, and, by extension, to the future well-being of all Americans. 4 Rounding out BYL’s programming focus will be soft skills development through real world experience. Skills will be enhanced in the areas of: Decision-making, Teamwork, Communication, and Working with Diverse Groups.
Effective Technology Use
Beyond the use of technology merely as a tool, there is the recognition that it can also be “the medium” for attaining knowledge, collaborating with peers, exchanging ideas, creating products, and sharing knowledge and insights. Social media has transformed “how” people communicate, and the “ways” they acquire, create, and share information. 5 BYL programming will also develop and employ effective ways of using technology to communicate which complement verbal and non-verbal skills rather than replace them.
Service Learning and Community Involvement
Assembling the resources of the BYL campaign, the programming will emphasize the importance of youth participation in community and civic engagement by working directly with organizations to design strategies to increase youth involvement and support. Youth.gov (the government initiative designed to assist American citizens to create, maintain, and strengthen effective youth programs) has identified seven (7) benefits to youth participation in service learning.
- Improvement of academic outcomes for students;
- Promotion of a sense of connectedness to the school and the community;
- Promotion of social and emotional skills;
- Promotion of civic participation;
- Improvement of character values and responsible behavior;
- Improvement of academic outcomes for students; and
- Promote of a sense of connectedness to the school and the community.