This past weekend, ECS’ Seeing Youth Succeed (SYS) program kicked-off the SYS Initiative, Saturday programming for youth ages 14 through 18.
The SYS Initiative is one of four elements that make up the Seeing Youth Succeed program. Like the other components (Job Search Skills Initiative, SYS Paid Internships, and the SYS Ambassador Program) the SYS Initiative aims to develop youths’ work readiness and leadership skills through project-based learning and a variety of hands-on activities.
New and returning youth attended Saturday’s orientation to meet their facilitators and peers. After introducing themselves to the participants, Saturday’s facilitators and MSW interns, Sam, Nina, Megan, and Karah, led icebreaker exercises to help ease first day jitters. Group activities included “speed meeting,” which gave participants the opportunity to talk one-on-one to each of their peers, and the “human barometer,” letting youth form and share their opinions on present-day issues.
“We wanted to keep the first day light and introductory since there are a handful of new participants this fall,” said Arley Styer, director of SYS. “We’ll be engaging them in skill- and team-building activities throughout the year, so it’s important for the youth to get to know each other and build trust from early on.”
Zymira, who has been an SYS participant for nearly a year, taught her new fellow participants the lyrics to SYS’ anthem, “SYS: How Y’all Feeling?” For her, SYS has been “like a big family,” as she puts it, citing that the friendships are one of the many things that keep her coming back. This time, she brought a few classmates with her.
The SYS Initiative will continue to meet every Saturday through June 20th, and new participants are free to join up until October 11th.