I Am Vision’s objective is to successfully assess and evaluate what the participates learned during the 8-week program, we are establishing perspectives that will be the foundation of the Youth Against Violence Program. The 3-targeted areas of the Youth Against Violence Program are: bond building, opening up, and affirming. Progress will be documented from examining each topic being addressed in our weekly sessions.
1. Bond Building
The first step in youth self-development is to break down the cliques and barriers that exist, and to establish a trust relationship among the individuals. This is accomplished by giving the group members some problem-solving task, which requires them to work side by side with others in the group. As they discuss solutions and physically help one another accomplish the goal, bonds are built between people of diverse backgrounds. Cooperation is the main goal, as each person’s input is accepted and welcomed by others, they will begin to identify themselves as part of the group – part of the team.
2. Opening Up
When an individual can share non-threatening areas of his or her life, an exciting step in group building has taken place. People like to talk about themselves. If a person perceives that another person is genuinely interested in him or her, then telling one’s peers about oneself provides an opportunity for trust to develop in the group. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. If a person perceives that others don’t care to listen, trust will not be built. The more empathetically a youth group listens, the more secure a person feels when sharing her or his personal struggles.
The exercises done in this step should be generic enough so that people can share to whatever degree they feel comfortable. Participants go away from these activities enthusiastic about the deepening friendships they are developing in their group. They realize that their personal imperfections are not unique. When people discover they are normal they are able to accept and deal with their problems in a much more constructive way.
Crucial to the growing process of a group is the act of encouraging each other through affirmation. When a young man and woman hear his peers complimenting him, he enjoys his participation in the group much more and is more likely to share deeper feelings. When a young woman is told by her friends that they appreciate her, her feeling of self-worth dramatically increases. Much reclusive youth become active members of the group when they realize others care about them.
Participants who have been involved in affirming strategies leave the meetings feeling warm and fuzzy about the group and themselves. This feeling is especially crucial at this stage in the process of community building. After revealing their inner selves during the Opening Upstage, people need positive feedback to reassure them the other members of the group think they are still okay before they will consider sharing further. It is important to remember that adult leaders and advisors are an integral part of the community building process and need affirmation just like everyone else. After completing the 8 weeks Youth Against Violence Program, they will then be eligible for the next program, The Vision Center Program.