Romance Academy US Completes First Pilot

IMG_20160103_195259The teens from Romance Academy US completed their course with a celebratory dinner at a local restaurant. They were presented with certificates of achievement and memory books which included photos of their time on Romance Academy.

The group formed in late October 2015. Three teens decided to embark on this new adventure, Romance Academy, a Healthy Relationships curriculum that GYA has brought it over from the UK. No other US teen has ever done a Romance Academy course – this was its first delivery in the US. While we had hoped for 10-12 young people to start the course, the pilot was small but perfectly formed. Despite a few similarities, the teens that participated were very different in their beliefs and values which is really what a good Romance Academy includes.

IMG_20160103_195529Romance Academy explores values and relationships. Values about why the participants think like they do – where those values can be strengthened and where they can be challenged with new ideas. It looks at all relationships, not just romantic ones, although those are the most fun ones to talk through! It explores families, friends and romantic relationships.

The first week dove right in to explore what sex is and what sex isn’t based on what young people think – they have to work together and think critically. It generated an hour of discussion just from that one activity!

IMG_20160103_195517After a couple of sessions it was time for the Romance Academy overnight experience. This included three sessions of the Academy including love languages and THE SEX BAG – a bag full of items that teens decide if they’re romantic, emotional, erotic or reproductive in nature. There are no wrong answers though, so to one teen an empty beer bottle was reproductive (you end up with a baby if you drink and then don’t use protection) while to another it was romantic (dinner dates). The participants also enjoyed team building at a local trampoline park and a video game session at the overnight location.

The participants also explored values around drinking and drugs, pregnancy and babies and ended up with an egg to care for for one week. They were given points for creative pictures doing ‘parental’ things with their eggs. One teen provided a cradle for his egg while another exposed his egg to his favorite TV programs. The young lady who participated had an egg fashion show, complete with hair style changes! This finished with parents coming and talking with the group about their experiences as a parent and how it changes your life.

The final weeks explored conflict resolution and violence in dating and families. It culminated in a presentation evening with a photo book of memories provided to each teen. Josh said ‘it’s like old school Facebook’ as they showed each other their books complete with printed pictures. Teens completed pre and post surveys to better grow the Romance Academy program.  

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If you would like to know more about the Academy or if you are interested in hosting a Romance Academy please contact us!

Romance Academy is in need of funding for its next two sessions starting in February 2016. Please consider giving here.

First GYA Little Free Library Finds Its Home

IMG_20151027_162528The first of the GYA Little Free Libraries, built in partnership with Friends of the Portsmouth Library, has found its home.

It will be placed at the Portsmouth Community Colored Library Museum. Today we dropped it off at the Portsmouth Museum Foundation – it will be placed between Thanksgiving and the first of the year (2015/2016).

Keep checking back for more updates on this and other Little Free Libraries.

GYA Participates In Community Takeover Day At Community College

IMG_20150922_111220Global Youth Action had the opportunity to attend a local community resource day at Tidewater Community College’s Portsmouth campus.

The Student Activities Center has introduced a community resource center to meet all the needs of the students that attend their college in a holistic way. To support its launch, they held a Community Takeover Day in which community services were on site for all students to access.

In the future, the resource center will also be open to community partners so that students can access their services on site. We were able to offer volunteering opportunities to the college students to enhance their educational experience.

At GYA we also believe that youth work doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There are a lot of factors that go into youth development and just to focus on one area such as physical fitness, spiritual development, emotional support or educational development misses the mark. We try not to ‘recreate the wheel’ in our programming but we also try not duplicate existing opportunities. Our goal is to offer global and innovative programs that haven’t been tried in a locality. We feel this enhances all the local services for youth in an area.

We offer diverse programs that appeal to different youth. We have One Sound (coming soon) to focus on Steel Pans and African Drum and Dance (as well as other globally inspired dances), Romance Academy (coming soon) about healthy relationships, Little Free Libraries which include artistic and basic construction skill development, GYA Works for job skills development and paid work experience and group and individual mentoring.

If you want to know more about our programs or how you can get involved – contact us!

If you’d like to support our programs – donate here.

Pilot Project Of GYA Works Celebrates Teens’ Achievements

GYA Works CompletionThe pilot project and first cohort of GYA Works finished in the first week of September 2015. GYA Works ‘In Housekeeping’ was designed to give youth practical work experience, workplace mentoring and classroom education in career success and personal finance.

Two youth were offered the chance to have gainful employment during July and August 2015. Both were provided with uniforms and training in cleaning and workplace expectations. They were given transportation to and from the job site and supervision and workplace mentoring while on site. Skills in the work experience portion focused on attention to detail, time management and taking direction from a supervisor.

The classroom sessions used curriculum in partnership with Junior Achievement of Hampton Roads. Career Success and Personal Finance were the best options to pair with the work experience portion of the GYA works program. The feedback regarding the curriculum portion showed that both youth felt that Career Success was very useful (10/10). For one young person, the classroom portion was her favorite part of the entire GYA Works program.

The final day of the program included a special congratulatory luncheon at Catch 31 in Virginia Beach as well as a new outfit for interviewing. Board member Tammy Bunch of Bunch Real Estate participated in the lunch program. Due to a bereavement in the family one member of GYA Works was only able to attend the classroom portion of the day and not the full celebration. In February, GYA Works will host a reunion of all GYA Works participants including a tax preparation session to round out their education and experience.

What the teens had to say about GYA Works:

“It was helpful. It teaches a lot.”

“You have to pay very close attention to detail and keep a steady pace.”

Overall it was very successful. We achieved  a 100% participation rate, a 100% classroom program achievement rate and a 50% work experience achievement rate. The next step will be to use the feedback from the youth as well as lessons learned by the GYA Works team to improve the program and prepare it for a full launch in early 2016.

GYA Empowers Teens To Build Little Free Libraries – Part 2

LFL Pics Blog 2At the beginning of August 2015, a group of teens and a few wonderful volunteers started to build three Little Free Libraries to be placed in the City of Portsmouth, VA.

Three sessions later, after a can of stain, many nails and screws, caulk, adhesive, saw dust, pizza, burgers and more soda and cookies than we care to count, the project is complete.

The teens ranged from ages 11-16 and came together from various areas across Portsmouth. Hosted by the HER Shelter and sponsored by the Friends Of The Portsmouth Public Library, the group met over the course of three evenings to complete the project.

The young people built the outside using plywood, screwed together roofs and hammered on the shingles. They stained the inside and outside of the libraries, caulked the seams and fastened on the plexiglass windows and front doors.

The libraries built are now available to three communities to help get books to areas without easy access to a library. The roofs have been left untouched so that youth from those communities can decorate their own library to reflect their neighborhood.

This project is only just getting started with plans in the works to partner with other local groups serving teens across Portsmouth to build more libraries and help residents access more books.

If you’re interested in the Little Free Library project in Portsmouth or your local area, please reach out.

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