Youth Programs

“Brave” spaces for sharing: trauma, personal stories, and community

For all age groups, baseline safety assumptions should be discussed and agreed upon by facilitators, including:

  1. Respect for self and others
  2. Using I-statements
  3. Confidentiality agreements
  4. Refraining from talking about the experiences of others that have not been directly witnessed
  5. Refraining from bullying
  6. Refraining from shaming

Creating a “safe space” is not always possible. Instead, you may try to create a “brave space” for children and teens, which is always possible. A safe space is the idea that we can prevent challenging and difficult things from hurting anyone else in the group. That is not always possible. A brave space is the idea that we can support one another as we learn and grow by acknowledging that certain challenges are painful and that we can go through them together. The creation and stewardship of a brave space requires empathy and a sense of ownership.

It is helpful for leaders of all age groups to be in contact in advance via email with children and teens and their caregivers and families about expectations and “things to bring” (if there will be special trips, activities and the like).It can also be useful for workshop leaders to know background information that might be helpful (i.e. have there been any recent crises, identity considerations, concerns or behaviors that leaders should know about).At the same time, autonomy is important, especially for senior teens, so it may be more appropriate to email them directly as well as parents for this information. The covenant is strengthened when the youth have control of their social environment.

Facilitators and youth group participants can work together to create the level of safety/bravery/inclusivity that is age appropriate. For instance, the senior teens are better prepared to create a more challenging and growth-oriented environment than some of the younger groups. Stronger facilitators may be able to create braver spaces than others. Finding comfort levels and balance is key. Everyone can participate in this process. Finding group norms and group values can be a fun process, especially if you are invested in getting to know one another along the way. The important thing is to be committed to the healthy growth of everyone in the room. Some key themes for groups to consider while creating a covenant are: Trust, honesty, integrity, responsibility, commitment to the wellbeing of the group. It also may be important to include the basic safety assumptions (listed above), that facilitators have discussed and agreed upon ahead of time.

Youth leaders may choose to have their pronouns on their name tags and, without asking the youth to do the same, (as this might be beyond the group member’s readiness and comfort level,) create an accepting space and an open door for youth to follow suit.

Fostering an inclusive and anti-racist youth culture

Creating a covenantal relationship

To foster an inclusive youth culture within children’s programs, group leaders can take the proactive approach of creating a “covenantal” relationship among the group from the start. The initial meeting of the group should have a time set aside to collaboratively form a group covenant outlining how they all want to be with one another when gathered. This can be done with toddlers through high schoolers (and of course could happen with adult groups as well). All voices should have the opportunity to contribute. Group leaders may want to suggest one or two to start the process (for example, be kind to one another, help everyone to feel included etc.). This covenant should be written on a large piece of paper and posted for the week in the space where the group meets. It can be revisited at the beginning of each day and should be adjusted as needed. Talk about the process for how members of the group can remind each other of the covenant when needed – encouraging conciliatory rather than adversarial approaches.

Examining the youth program

Invite feedback from the group leaders and children. Invite your youth leaders to think about how they might examine the culture of their program. Youth group leaders should be careful about making assumptions about people’s experiences and identities that might make someone feel unseen.

Representation

Representation is key in fostering an inclusive and anti-racist youth culture. One way to do this within children’s programming is to offer books during story time that include BIPOC characters and families. Star Island has taken the first step in making this possible by updating the libraries in Louise’s Barn and in the 2nd floor kids room of the Oceanic. Youth group leaders are encouraged to choose from this new section of books at least half the time when reading stories to their class.

Youth Programing

Anti-racism, social justice, and inclusion are not just topics for adults. By including activities that focus on these topics in youth programming, children and youth are a part of moving Star Island towards becoming a Beloved Community. That being said, knowing how and where to find good quality age appropriate anti-racism/social justice curricula may be hard for youth staff volunteers, especially if they are not familiar with it.

For younger children, such as nursery and lower elementary, this programming can come in the form of story time by choosing books mentioned in the above section.

For older youth groups, such as Upper Elementary, Junior and Senior High, it is suggested that youth staff plan at least one day that includes anti-racism training/workshop/activities for kids.

Anti-racism, Social Justice, and Inclusion Curricula and Activities Ideas for All Ages

Lower Elementary Curricula and Activities
Activity 1: Pairing Penguins, Activity 2: Family Badges, Activity 3: Story – Tango’s Family,

The goals of these activity (taken from Tapestry of Faith), geared towards lower elementary kids, are to reinforce inclusion and help children recognize that families come in all shapes, colors, and sizes.

The below google doc contains multiple activities, games, and group discussion prompts with an Anti-Racism focus that can be used with youth groups. These activities were taken from the 2020/2021 Soul Matters curricula. They can be used all together or as standalone activities. Soul Matters created this curriculum with the intention of using them in a virtual setting, however they can be easily adapted to in-person.

Lower Elementary Anti-Racism Lesson Plans and Activities

 

Upper Elementary Curricula and Activities
Session 14: Justice (taken from Tapestry of Faith)

The goals of these activities are to explore and release tension about difficult justice issues through play, express hope for justice using the symbolism of shining ones own light, and to create a personal “light” to symbolize the light in each of us.

Activity 2: Counting Circle (taken from Tapestry of Faith)

This game focuses on the importance of listening to others, and how. By listening and really hearing those around us, we can create a more just, fair, and peaceful world.

The below google doc contains multiple activities, games, and group discussion prompts with an Anti-Racism focus that can be used with youth groups. These activities were taken from the 2020/2021 Soul Matters curricula. They can be used all together or as standalone activities. Soul Matters created this curriculum with the intention of using them in a virtual setting, however they can be easily adapted to in-person.

Upper Elementary Anti-Racism Lesson Plans and Activities

 

Junior & Senior Youth Group Curricula and Activities
Workshop 1: The Call for Awareness (taken from Tapestry of Faith)

This workshop helps youth see themselves as social activists or justice makers. It explores the first quality: awareness. Youth become more aware of their personal history of justice work and how awareness can influence their commitment to this work.

Activity 4: Light Crafts(taken from Tapestry of Faith)

This activity focuses on the potential we each have to shine our own light for Justice

The below google doc contains multiple activities, games, and group discussion prompts with an Anti-Racism focus that can be used with youth groups. These activities were taken from the 2020/2021 Soul Matters curricula. They can be used all together or as standalone activities. Soul Matters created this curriculum with the intention of using them in a virtual setting, however they can be easily adapted to in-person.

Youth Group Anti-Racism Lesson Plans and Activities

 

Reading List

When planning youth programming on anti-racism, consider including some of the following books, which are geared toward Pre-K and Elementary age children and can be found at different locations on Star Island.

Nursery

Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi

An ABC of Equality by Chana Ginelle Ewing

A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane DeRolf

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold

The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler and David Lee Csicsko 

One by Kathryn Otoshi

Lower Elementary

Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi

I Need a Lunch Box by Jeannette Caines

And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss

I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Kadir Nelson

We March by Shane W. Evens

One by Kathryn Otoshi

Upper Elementary

A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

Around Our Way on Neighbors Day by Tameka Fryer Brown

I Need a Lunch Box by Jeannette Caines

And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss

I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Kadir Nelson

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni

Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X by Ilyasah Shabazz

Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis by Jabari Asim and E. B. Lewis

Something Happened in Our Town by Marianne Celano

The Other Side by Jaqueline Woodson

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson and E. B. Lewis

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