Tuesday, May 28, 2013

From the Desk of Mrs. Clay: YAC Begins a New Decade

The Class of 2013 marks the end of the first 10 years of implementation of the requirement for graduation (Class of 2004-2013) and expands YAC's role as an advisor and facilitator of service opportunities to entrepreneurs of projects on social justice and peace. 

In the year 2013-2014, YAC will LEAD (Leaders Engaging Across Differences) school wide projects honoring the Points of Light Foundation National Service Days. 

YAC's History

From 2000-2004, an intergenerational Service-Learning Committee advised the service requirement for graduation facilitator about the creation of the process and documentation for direct service, away from the Casady campus credit. 

The YAC was founded by students after they attended a national service learning conference in 2004.  Its meaning  changes with the senior leadership focus for the year.  Some of the meanings have been: Youth Advisory Council, Youth and Adult Advisory,Action Council, You-nite A Community, Youth And Community.  The words of the mission, vision and purpose also changes, but the spirit is the same; intergenerational service council.  Projects of the mind and actions of hearts where providers and recipients of service learn and grow together.  Cyclones aim to be entrepreneurs of peace and social change.

From 2005-2010, YAC became an action council. YAC started introducing service-learning to teachers, became proposal and reflection audience for student's certification of hours and co-facilitated site visits resulting from freshman class service-learning Fridays sessions.   Direct, indirect, research, and volunteerism on campus and in the greater Oklahoma City community received credit. Inclusion of Middle and Lower divisions in YAC service initiatives started with a competition during Students Against Hunger -Casady Cans Do Food Drive.  The Pinwheels for Peace project, a collaborative effort between the service-learning program and the 4th grade class, expanded YAC's scope of inclusion because the LD became the leading division of this project when its principal stated in a reflective article that the mission of the Montessori based education has its foundation in "Global Peace begins in the classroom."

From 2011-2013, YAC became a service connection to STUCO, faculty, coaches, and students initiatives.  YAC lost its connection to reflection and co-facilitation of freshmen orientation to service-learning because proposals and reflection were no longer required and changes in schedule did not allow service learning Friday sessions for freshmen anymore.  YAC supported existing projects as well as inspired YAC members to create new ones. 

In 2011 and 2012, YAC members Salman H., Jessica G. and Sidney J. started brainstorming a possible Youth LEAD online chapter @ Casady School.  LEAD stands for Leaders Engaging Across Differences.  In collaboration with the Respect Diversity Foundation, CAIR Oklahoma, and YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, the first training of Youth LEAD OKC took place during National Volunteer Week 2013 at the Casady Wing.  13 Casady students are current members of Youth LEAD OKC 2013-2014.  Casady YAC -Youth LEAD OKC teen leaders are Sidney J. (founder of Youth LEAD OKC), Seondre C., Gavin C., Carleigh B.,  Agnish C.,  Aubrey H., Jack B., Hunter S., Natasha S.,  Maggie A.  Casady Youth LEAD OKC members are Yogaish K. Jack T., Anaya B., Alex W.

From Tabitha May-Tolub, Chapel Speech (not delivered due to plane delays for President Obama's  Boston Interfaith Service in remembrance of victims of Boston Marathon Bombing

Tabitha, YLOKC Trainer
Youth LEAD online advocates for service of any kind that is filled with heart and hard work.

We have so many bodies on this planet and so much to do that in some ways I say – “Just do it”. Just get out there and get started and make the world a better place. 

However – there are some problems that we just can’t seem to fix, no matter how hard we work. Those issues always seem to stem from the things that are most important to us, the pieces of our identity: race, religion, ethnicity, gender, ability and sexual orientation. When it comes to the pieces of our world that are connected to our identity, our fears, our mistrusts and the ways in which we are polarized get in the way. Elbow grease just is not enough. We need to find a different way to serve.  For Youth LEAD service has three parts:
 The first is Reflection. Who are we? what do we believe? what baggage and what narratives do we bring with us from our lives and the lives of our families? How do these pieces of our identity form us and inform us? This part is really important because unless we know who we are, where we come from and how that supports and challenges the work we do in the world, it is hard for us to move on from here.
The second part is connection. We need the skills to be able to connect with others who hold very different beliefs than us. Whose stories and experiences give us a very different perspective on the world? If we only surround ourselves with people who look like us, think like us and operate like us we never see the whole picture. We are always missing pieces that are essential as we try to repair the world.
The third is Action. While the first two parts are critical, until all our reflecting and connecting translates into action – it will never get us where we need to go. This Action however needs to be intentional. We need to ask deep questions about what is and is not working and think creatively about why and how to fix it. WE need to take all the information learned in parts one and two and draft it into organized, intentional work. Projects that have a clear vision, committee work that honors product and process, meetings that are focused and where all voices are heard and allowed.   It is our belief that if all three of these parts are in place, our service takes on a whole new level of excellence and we can begin to repair the way we communicate with each other and the way we serve the world. 

Youth LEAD OKC had its first training in Communication and Project Management during National Volunteer Week 2013 from Youth LEAD online Program Director, Tabitha May-Tolub.  Youth LEAD OKC has officially 29 members.  5 adult mentors and the rest are OKC teens from 11 high schools.  Casady Youth LEADERS are:   Sidney J*., Carleigh B*., Gavin C*., Hunter S*., Jack B*., Maggie A*., Yogaish K. Agnish Ch*., Natasha S*, Anaya B.
 (*YAC Member)

In 2013, Sidney J attended her second TIDE Conference and her reflection inspired a new decade for YAC.  In this new decade, YAC will not just co-facilitate, but rather LEAD school wide projects, the only imposed guideline is to follow the Points of Lights Foundation Calendar of National Days of Service. 

YAC will continue to support student and faculty project initiatives, but in addition, YAC Youth LEAD OKC teens will enhance their LEAD skills during Casady YAC meetings. 

The new Casady YAC LEADS Blog address is http://casadyacleads.blogspot.com/ .

MAY SERVICE COLORS: Holi Activity first experience at Youth LEAD TIDE Conference 2012

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