Collaboration towards a Common Goal
The semi-formal setting of our meetings allows young people to get an experience of how to participate in discussions, work together, and follow meeting agendas. The meetings are usually conducted to plan for a project, event, or holiday program, so everyone gets to help design what we do. There is space for everyone to contribute their ideas, and it is important that we respectfully listen and come to agreements. Our meetings will usually have an introductory session where we watch videos or talks, or even have a speaker, to inspire us and prepare us for the themes of the project we are preparing to do. We can be reminded of the concepts that we want to share with others, and spark great ideas for the things we want to achieve. After the project or event is completed, we sometimes will come together to for a review meeting to celebrate. This allows us to sit together and reflect on what we did well, what could be improved, and share the great ideas we have for next time. The holistic process of planning, conducting, and reflecting is greatly beneficial for the young people, as they will feel a sense of achievement and belonging to the group.
Friendships and Positive Peer Influence
There is always great diversity in local schools in the area, but there is often also bias and stereotypes against cliques and groups of peers that children, teenagers, and young people become familiar with. Coming together at the association has given the whole team opportunities to connect with those who we’d never have expected to interact with. Friendships grow with each meeting because we spend so much time chatting, laughing, and going way off track. Fortunately we always have our Chair to remind us of the tasks at hand. During our events, we also have time to hangout in between playing games with the participants and setting up for activities. Despite how busy our lives can get as we get older, we always find ourselves volunteering our time to come to meetings and events because of the friendships we have formed with other members.
As all of us are nearing the stage of independence and self development, we have been able to give each other encouragement regarding schooling, part time work, the future, and other stressful things on our minds. During one of our meetings, we left a session for some sharing of work experience and part time jobs. The younger teens shared their worries about resume writing, applying for jobs, and saving money, and talked about their future aspirations. After listening to their sharing, the older kids went around talking about their experiences, as well as tips that helped them get jobs, feel more confident, and interact with bosses or customers. Everyone gained some knowledge that day inspired them to keep looking for jobs, start their own services like tutoring or gardening, or strive to do better in the jobs they already have. This is just one example of how these similar aged peers positively influenced each other.