Teambuilding and Leadership
The Y trains staff to transport teens through time portals where agile feet walk on the backs of turtle shells floating in molten lava. They aren’t practicing to be extras in the next Michael Bay movie blockbuster; they are training to become facilitators of building community and respect all in the name of fun.
In partnership with the Collaboration Council, YMCA Youth & Family Services gathered eleven youth development specialists on May 31, 2017 at the Mid County Recreation Center in Montgomery County, MD to practice the art of community. From group games to teambuilding activities, participants were trained to use imagination and play to build connection with one another. Attendees learned firsthand as they were challenged to overcome obstacles in creative and imaginative challenges like “Time Portal” (pictured example above).
Over the years, facilitators Richelle Barber and Meredith Smith, staff at YMCA Youth & Family Services in the Washington D.C area, have creatively designed the training to create an experience that simulates a real –world approach to working with youth in a group setting. Through these games and challenges, youth development practitioners are learning to build an emotionally safe community where youth learn to trust each other and connect in spite of their fears and differences. Many of these group games are used in the Y’s teen therapy and psycho-educational groups, providing a unique combination of mental health and youth development practices.
Staff at youth development organizations often face the challenge of working with groups of diverse teens where bullying, gossip, intimidation, and cliques run rampant. For decades, the youth development field has used group games to challenge those norms and ease the process of making new friends for groups of young people. The pervasiveness of bullying among teens has made training all the more important in creating cohesive and respectful communities for young people.
When asked about the training, participant JoAnn Burl of Jeanette’s Joy said, “the attendees were young and old, enjoying the atmosphere of learning and wonder.”
Through this training, youth practitioners are given the skills to help their young people form positive connections and friendships with others no matter their background.