Building a Curriculum
The youth advocates' experiences and perspectives are at the center of developing the curriculum each year for the Youth Advocacy Program.
Their expertise, not their personal traumas, drive the curriculum and their advocacy. Their personal experiences are but one component of their expertise and offer us facts and understanding of the impact of systems on youth and young adults.
The facilitation techniques are developed to meet the individual learning styles of each youth advocate. Staff always ask youth advocates if they are visual or auditory learners, if they like to work in groups or by themselves, and if they like to draw instead of write. Staff then adjust learning activities to meet the needs of the group. With the feedback and guidance provided by the youth advocates, Youth Advocacy Program staff have incorporated explicit discussions of race and bias into the curriculum. Doing this process creates an atmosphere of understanding that trauma is complex and intersects with other external social factors and identities.
Providing Robust and Consistent Support
It is imperative that programs consider the challenges for young people to offer their expertise and be present in the workshops while they are in crisis outside of the workshops. To help provide as much support as possible to the youth advocates, Youth Advocacy Program staff conduct initial check-ins or interviews when new youth advocates start the program to learn about their:
- Personal lives
- Immediate needs
- Learning style
- Possible emotional and psychological triggers.
Throughout the year, regular check-ins are continuously conducted to address youths’ ongoing needs, crises, planning in their dependency or delinquency cases, education planning, and court advocacy.