Under the facilitation of Eryn Johnson (Community Art Center) and Laurie Jo Wallace (Health Resources in Action), Mass Cultural Council hosted a training this fall for teaching artists and prospective creative youth development grantees to explore the BEST (Building Exemplary Systems of Training) Initiative’s “Creative Youth Approach”. The approach speaks to engaging students in their own creative learning and uses a series of prompts (e.g. leading a science experiment, designing and implementing a mural, planning a program budget, etc.) to challenge participants to think about where their practice stands on a spectrum from “adults should do alone” to “youth can do alone.”
Levels of youth involvement in learning range from “no youth involvement” in the planning and implementation of their education to “self-management” where youth are empowered to set their own agendas and take charge of their own learning. Overall, participants agreed that while adults are great at providing structure or acting as consultants, youth have natural abilities to create, teach and be responsible for their own learning and creative process. When students are provided a space where they can be collaborative and experience an increased level of self-managing, incredible learning opportunities occur.
Health Resources in Action is a recognized leader in the out-of-school time community. They operate the BEST Initiative, the only region-wide professional skills training and credentialing system for youth workers and their supervisors.
As of December, 2015, BEST has trained more than 10,000 youth workers and provided technical assistance to their agencies, which serve more than 80,000 youth.