#Winning2018 : Avalon’s Youth Empowerment Summit

By: Avalon Housing

Avalon Housing’s first Youth Empowerment Summit was a hit! It was much more than a day of fun and laughter. It was an event where youth shared space, while absorbing nutrients for their growth and development.   Youth from five of Avalon’s properties gathered for a full day of workshops and activities.

Many studies show that an environment that fosters comradeship, pleasure, competition, security and confidence is fundamental to the health and wellness – and resiliency – of youth.   According to the Federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare, there are eight elements of the fundamental requirements for healthy adolescent development.  They are:

-Participate as citizens, workers, responsible members of society
-Gain experience in decision making
-Interact with peers and acquire a sense of belonging
-Reflect on one’s self, in relation to others discover self by looking outward as well as inward
-Discuss conflicting values and formulate one’s own value system
-Experiment with one’s own identity, with relationships with other people
-Develop a feeling of accountability in the context of relationships among equals
-Cultivate a capacity to enjoy life

At Avalon, we’ve created our youth programs, and events like this summit, to incorporate all eight of these key elements.  This type of event requires strong collaboration with our community partners and others who are invested in youth development. The students from Eastern Michigan University’s Social Work 350 class were very instrumental in the planning and coordination of this incredible day.  Presenters from Michigan Works and Ozone House offered workshops during the earlier part of the day. Youth participants received information about local youth employment opportunities, professional development, youth case management, counseling and housing resources. A session on making delicious desserts was also facilitated by our student partners from EMU.

The Connect Four tournament was full of excitement and friendly competition. The youth applied their most strategic critical thinking skills to compete until the first, second, and third place winners were announced. The evening ended with a basketball exhibition game against Avalon staff. The game ended with the youth taking a two-point lead.

This event provided multiple opportunities for “winning,” both literally and metaphorically. The youth participants’ confidence grew by the minute as the day went by.  For this reason, I’d say the summit was a success!

Layton Price, Community and Youth Program Coordinator