Programs that we've had to suspend include, College Access for All, college campus tours financial literacy workshops, and our Annual Leadership Retreat. The Summer Youth Employment Program for 2020 was officially suspended by the City in April, and our summer camp programs remain in the air as the uncertainty of when our city will reopen leaves us paralyzed.
In order to maximize our reach in this new digital space, we've been working diligently to create opportunities where young people can easily become a part of our community.
Instagram live classes are offered daily at 4:30pm, taught by RTS instructors and range from fitness to the arts, and even cooking! Our Go Pro with RTS series are held every Tuesday and Thursday, offering college and career workshops that are open to all ages.
With so many changes happening daily, our first concern is of course, the health and well-being of everyone in our community. But if we are to be role models to our young people, especially in a time like this, then it is important for us to adapt and move forward with a positive outlook and continue on with our mission of empowering youth as best we can.
It’s a buzz term you hear a lot, but what is SEL exactly? In short, SEL, an acronym for Social Emotional Learning, is basically this: young people learn to understand themselves, understand and collaborate with others, and make responsible decisions on their own. Studies have suggested that the resulting outcomes such as confidence and resilience will be more of a predictor of a person’s success and lifelong well-being than any academic test scores.
While the best youth programs train their staff in evidence-based techniques known to promote gains in SEL, you as a parent cannot be expected to host a fulfilling summer camp experience from your dinner table, or suddenly become Mary Poppins while juggling work, remote learning, meals and so on.
However, fear not! Below are 5 tips for encouraging SEL within your home. Because while Mary Poppins status may not be quite within reach, perhaps you can take a few tricks from the unsung heroes at your child’s after-school or summer camp program.
1. Focus on Language
Two major terms that have emerged in youth guidance include asset-based language and growth mindset.
Asset-based language means focusing on a child’s skills and abilities instead of shortcomings. The best way to motivate most youth is by giving them the credit that they CAN succeed. “Why can’t you do your assignments on time?” is a deficit-based approach, whereas “I am confident that you will complete your assignments” is an asset-based approach, which is more likely to inspire your child to succeed at small tasks. At times when we are frustrated, this can be difficult, but practice makes (almost) perfect.
Growth mindset (opposite of fixed mindset) refers to the idea of focusing on how your child can become intelligent by working hard, as opposed to just being smart or being naturally good at something. This is backed up by recent brain studies which suggest that we’re all capable of learning new things and changing our behaviors during our entire lifespan!
By complimenting your child’s efforts instead of their “gifts” and by focusing on their successes rather than struggles, you contribute to their gains in self-efficacy and positive identity, two tremendously important SEL capacities!
2. Rituals & Routines with Purpose
Nothing comforts young people like enjoyable rituals that they can look forward to. Continuing with established activities such as coloring Easter eggs and celebrating birthdays is very important while practicing social distancing. However, it is also easy to create at-home rituals that are more short-term, which hold purpose in helping your child continually grow within. Here are some ideas:
3. The Group Agreement
Do you have a constant battle over a daily routine, or a less-than-favorite household task that just needs to be done? Instead of getting into a game of tug-o-war, continually debating details of how something should or shouldn’t be done, simply take the time to put it in writing! Most importantly, make it collaborative. Give your child a voice. You will be surprised at how often their choice will be to do the right thing when they are asked to give input on a rule or guideline. With some guidance as to what you are trying to accomplish with them, you will raise the bar and watch them meet you there.
Your tone is important in this exercise, and you MUST be careful to listen and compromise – not to lecture or dictate. Think about what you need to accomplish during this time (or times), why this will help your child, and how you can explain non-negotiable parts of the agreement without making them feel like they have no authority over their participation. You can use a poster or a dry-erase board to document these guidelines or invitations. To take it a step further, celebrate this milestone of agreement by decorating it with your family. Remember to have it handy for when you might have to refer to it again. Also, be flexible. Maybe parts of the agreement are not realistic and need to be changed. Work with your family and show your child how to adjust and compromise. That brings us to the next tip ...
4. Role Model!
Perhaps the most important ingredient to building up your child’s capacity to collaborate or manage themselves is not a creative, new ritual or tool, but something that must live in the very fabric of your day: role modeling. Now, we all cannot be perfect humans 24 hours a day, but there is some control we have on how we interact with one another. Resolve conflicts, don’t hide them. Give the benefit of the doubt, respect the other opinion, debate don’t hate! Your child will witness and borrow your techniques.
5. Tell stories, lots of stories!
Stories, new and old. Stories, fictional and nonfictional. Stories made up by you. Stories from a book. Stories told by your child. These are all great resources. Years ago, we had no Netflix. We got our guidance and entertainment from generations upon generations of written and/or spoken word. Even before many religious scriptures there were fireside tales that helped people agree upon social discourse. Whether you confide in the Bible, Dr. Seuss, a relative who likes to tell tall tales via FaceTime, or all of the above – make plenty of time for stories, and make plenty of time to ask probing questions about scenarios that your children may find themselves in one day. When used effectively, stories they can provide an excellent compass for your child’s self-management and social awareness.
Want to share a great at-home tip for supporting SEL? Leave a comment below:
Roads to Success is bringing our after-school programming online as we continue our mission of empowering youth through this challenging time. Our online enrichment program is designed to support our future leaders' academic, social-emotional and recreational needs.
DAILY AFTER-SCHOOL SCHEDULE
The schedule of activities for the week starting Monday, March 30th includes:
2:30 PM to 3:30 PM - Tutoring/ HW Help
3:30 PM to 4:00 PM - Games for Fun & Purpose
4:00 PM to 5:00 PM - Group Discussions
5:00 PM to 5:30 PM - Break-Out Groups
Each week we will be adding new activities to our daily schedule as we continue to grow our programs virtually. Contact your program's Site Director for complete details.
So stay tuned for online rallies, virtual tutorials, TikTok challenges, #rtsstayshome parties and more in the coming weeks!
QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?
Have a topic or subject matter you would like us to feature? Interested in volunteering? Reading a story? Hosting a magic show? Have a secret talent?
Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch with next steps.
We are so grateful for the wide spread support our transition to online programming has received thus far. It is a work in progress but also a labor of love. We look forward to continuing on this journey with you!
A MESSAGE FROM OUR CHIEF PROGRAM OFFICER
Earlier this evening, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza announced that students are not expected to report to NYC school buildings until Monday, April 20, 2020.
As a result, our after-school and Spring Recess programming across all of our NYC public school sites will be suspended until Monday, April 20, 2020 as well. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause to your daily life. Our amazing team of site directors will however, be available via phone and email to address any questions or concerns that may arise.
The health and safety of all of our Roads to Success participants continues to be our first priority. We thank you all for your continued support and hope that everyone remains informed and healthy in the wake of the evolving situation around the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in New York City.
Chief Program Officer
As a reminder, it is critical that we all continue to practice general viral infection prevention measures including:
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or sleeve
- Wash your hands regularly
- Avoid touching your face
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Get your flu shot—it’s never too late
- Stay home if you’re feeling sick. Call your doctor and let them know your symptoms and travel history.
How to Stay Informed and Fight Bias
Please visit nyc.gov/coronavirus at any time for critical updates, as well as a helpful Coronavirus Fact Sheet (plus translations), available on that page under Additional Resources for 2019 Outbreak.
This page also includes ways to fight stigma and bias around this issue. It’s important we come together as a community and support one another during this time. COVID-19 is not more likely found in any one race or nationality, and we must each model inclusion and actively work to combat bias in our workplaces and communities. There are a lot of things on social media and in the news that are at best not rooted in science and at worst, offensive, demeaning and racist.
We will continue to share updates with our Roads to Success community during this rapidly evolving situation.
This year marked the 4th and final year of our partnership with Youth Inc. and the Celebration Gala. On Thursday, November 13, 2019, Roads to Success (RTS) staff, board members, families and supporters celebrated together at the Grand Hyatt New York alongside ten other nonprofit organizations who are working tirelessly on behalf of New York City Youth.
Thank you to everyone who supported or attended the event. We are deeply grateful for your commitment to building roads for our youth. Special thanks goes to Eliza and Jada who represented RTS on stage and spoke with confidence and grace.
Thank you Youth Inc. for this partnership and everyone who has supported and attended the event through the years. Stay tuned for our new event next year that will continue to celebrate and champion the success of our Future Leaders.
Tragic events in the news this summer have reminded Americans about the dangers of gun violence. The epidemic, according to our Summer Youth, is a reminder of the trauma that has affected far too many American families, including here in NYC.
That's why our SYEP (Summer Youth Employment Program) participants who were hosted at Street Corner Resources of Harlem have developed a performance that they hope will spread a message of "Love, Peace, Safety, Awareness and Acceptance." Because our government has not succeeded in curbing deadly shootings with adequate policy reform, the group decided to use their melange of performance skills - a combination of acting, dance, song, spoken word and rap - to create a piece that focuses on personal choices including whether gun ownership is worth the serious risk that comes along with fatalities from homicides, suicides and accidental death.
The ensemble discussed how their SYEP experience taught them that they could use their summers to gain new skills and passions while also inspiring communities affected by violence to bond together. One participant, Nahshon added "This is my first opportunity acting, but it now feels like a passion for me. And now I realize that everybody's going through their own situations and traumas, but we're not alone."
This SYEP group is only a small portion of Roads to Success Summer Youth, 550 of whom we have placed in paid summer jobs, internships and training programs in fields such as the arts, law, criminal justice, fashion, culinary, retail, education and much more. The program has been made possible by successful fundraising efforts by Roads to Success supporters, all of our SYEP work site partners and the Department of Youth and Community Development.
The ensemble aims to take their piece to local theaters and school assemblies to inspire people of all ages to be conscious and make safe choices when it comes to gun violence, police brutality, bullying, honoring the elderly and more. This August, they had their first performance at PS 166 in Manhattan.