The Power Of Empowerment

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Have you ever wondered the benefits of knowing that through your interaction and encouragement some of your young people have managed to achieve  their goals and are now doing well in life. Have you come in contact with a young person that you have worked with whose behaviour was a concern to you and thought he or she will be struggling in later stages in their life. Knowing this but you still ensured that you provided the one to one support, engaged them in meaningful training to develop their social and personal skills. One day you bump into this same young person who gives you a hug and says thank you for believing in me.  Now imagine that feeling inside you at that immediate moment. I bet you felt a sense of achievement, fulfilment and that tingling good feeling you got from hearing that from your young person who you have empowered in his life to make the right choices.

“A tingling good feeling you got from hearing that from your young person”

Now I don’t know about you, but for me that is one of the best feelings you can ever have as a youth worker. I would like to share some tips which has really helped me as a professional in my day-to-day work with young people. I am not going to give you in-depth definition of what empowerment is but you can click on the word, which you will be able to see what the definition is.

I have always shared this with all the youth workers that I have managed and ensured that they understand and implement this into their practice. There are five steps to this process, which is communication, having an open mind, being a strong person, being active and above all having a sense of humour.

COMMUNICATE!

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We all know the importance of communication and the power it holds.  This is a key tool in engaging and empowering youths that you are working with. If you are having difficulty in this area then it will be extremely difficult to interact and engage with them. If this is the case then you should take a step back and improve your communication skills and listen and just ask questions. Through my work I have seen that young people don’t like being told what they need to do. This is where your skills as a youth worker comes in handy to teach young people with ways of solving problems or issues rather than imposing it on them.

Being Open-Minded

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Having an open mind as a youth worker will help you to become more in tune with young people you are working with. It will help you to become non judgemental in your approach. I am sure you have dis-approved the music they listen too. The benefits of being able to be open-minded can help you to be in touch with the young people and more importantly they will find it comfortable in approaching you with any issues they may have. I am not going to beat round the bushes and say this is really easy to do as an individual as we have our own values and habits that we have picked up during our life time. it’s an extremely difficult thing to do and we need to master this if we want to support and help young people to develop into becoming good citizens in society.

Be A Strong Role Model

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 “Having to be a role model to young people requires you to have inner strength and believing in your-self”

Being strong and a role model will be challenging and at the same time rewarding as well. You will discover obstacles in your way. You will agree and also disagree with young people you are working with, but whatever the case is you will have to remain strong. This I have seen in many cases that young people begin to respect you for that. It means that you are very clear with your boundaries and rules that you have set in your youth centre. On the other hand if you are weak you will only create confusions if you’re not able to keep to the rules, which has been agreed and set with the young people. Having to be a role model to young people requires you to have inner strength and believing in your-self.

Be Active

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“Create an energetic BUZZ in your youth club where energy is flowing”

Youth clubs or youth work in the past has been seen by many parents and professionals as being a place where young people come and play pool and table tennis and watch TV. It’s fundamental that when planning the programme youth workers should ensure that it is balanced with various indoor and outdoor activities. This will enable young people and yourself to be more active. In some cases you will come across young people who don’t prefer any kind of physical activities such as football and will not get involved. This will mean that you will have to look at alternative activities such as walking, frisbee and last of all, if the young people who show signs that they don’t want to do the above and only want to stay in the youth centre, then get them engaged in playing the Wii game at least. Getting them to do something rather than just sitting around means that you have empowered them to be more active and motivated in doing an activity. To me an active young person means active participation and a busy and fun youth centre. Create an energetic BUZZ in your youth club where energy is flowing.

Have A Sense Of Humour

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I think this must be the one thing that you must have in you as a youth worker. I say this because if you enjoy your work  you will ensure that it’s fun, lively,and in some cases full of laughs and jokes. As the saying goes LAUGHTER IS THE MEDICINE and can be a great way to develop a healthy relationship with your young people. It creates an environment that enables young people and your self to have fun and more importantly young people can and will relate to you more and develop trust in you. I believe this encourages young people to open up with your self more and are happy to discuss any problems they may be facing.

“As the saying goes LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE”

The above is not the only tools that are available but this has helped me in my work. As we are reflective practitioners it is important for us to be able to learn and share ideas and strategies that works. This does not mean that it will work for you as you will only know your group of young people who you are working with. Some times youth work in general can be a tough field to be working in and especially with young people as they will be very challenging, however when you see the rewards and the changes that you have made to the lives of young people who you have empowered must be one of the best feelings you can attain as a youth worker.

I have listed five skills that you may find useful to empower young people as a youth worker and hope this will enable you to deliver quality youth work, which empowers young people to achieve their aims and goals in life.

Please note the views, opinions and ideas that have been shared is solely from me and is no way linked with youthworknews.com

By: Sam Long

Youth Work Practitioner

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