Relational youth work.

I have been in contact with a youth worker lately who is currently writing a book about relational youth work. In our correspondence and discussions I have realised again the immense privilege and responsibility of youth work. Ours is a profession of relationship. Without the trust and respect that comes with the sharing of life youth work is nothing but case management. Relational youth work is at the core of great youth work. It is who we are as practitioners.
 
Today in a supervision session I encouraged a youth worker that her building relationships with severely disengaged young people was more important than trying to link them to employment options. This youth worker had heard the opposite. From managers and other service professional this woman had been told that relationships came second to KPI’s. Our work is being eroded by a neoliberalist agenda which focuses on outcomes and finances over relationship. If we allow our core work to be tainted by this agenda then we will continue to see our young people struggle.
Relational youth work
At Ultimate Youth Worker we believe so wholly in relationship that we added ‘deep engagement‘ to our pillars of practice. The short term solutions-focussed interventions that the government has been insisting on haven’t worked. The only way youth work ticks its KPI’s properly is if deep relationships underpin interventions. We need more engagement in youth work, not less. We need youth workers who reach out to young people with a focus on developing relationship before ticking boxes. We need more relational youth work. We all know this fundamental practice needs to become front and centre in our practice again.
 
What is one thing you can do to develop a stronger, deeper relationship with your young people this week? How can we become more relational in our work?
 

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Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Youth worker self-care: Meditation

Self care and meditationSelf care through meditation

I was recently looking for a little something new to add to my self-care repertoire. I was feeling a little drab in my own self care practice and as I reviewed my self care plan I noticed that lately much of my plan was practical skills based focused. I had not been doing any existential self reflective work. As I was pondering this one day I was challenged by a podcast I was listening to. In this particular podcast there was a discussion of the need for people to set goals and that meditation is one of the goals set by entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneur I was intrigued and after doing a little research I set a goal to meditate.
Here are a few of the reasons I decided to check out meditation:
  • It increases the synchronicity in your life
  • It helps living in the present moment
  • It increases self-actualisation.
  • Provides peace of mind, happiness
  • Decrease in potential mental illness
  • React more quickly and more effectively to a stressful event.
  • Helps with focus & concentration
  • Increases serotonin level, influences mood and behaviour.
  • Greater Orderliness of Brain Functioning
  • Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing.
  • Enhances the immune system.
  • Reduces activity of viruses and emotional distress
  • Helps in chronic diseases like allergies, arthritis etc.
  • Leads to a deeper level of physical relaxation.
  • It increases blood flow and slows the heart rate.

As a youth worker, these are all skills I could use more of everyday. Meditation is one of those skills I have tried before but never implemented as a long term ritual. After looking into the benefits of meditation I can’t believe I let it go without a bit more of a fight. Meditation fit within all areas of our self care plan and affects all areas immensely. Meditation is great.

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Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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We need older youth workers!

Youth work is an interesting profession. The vast majority of staff are under the age of 35. The average youth worker has worked in the sector for five years or less and it is as rare as hens teeth to find youth workers into their 50’s. Many years ago I heard a long term youth minister speak about the importance of having an age diverse youth workforce. Tim Hawkins, is that youth minister and as someone who has been in the gig for thirty odd years I think he is on to something.
We need workers who have experience and longevity in the field. We need some older workers with a lot of life in their years to strengthen the sector. We need the wisdom of experience.

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Adolescent brains are awesome.

Adolescent brains

I love TED talks! There is nothing quite as awesome as a snippet of bite sized informative goodness wrapped in a video. TED talks make us think very differently about the world we live in. They help us to dream and learn and hope for the future. One area in whichTED talks have enriched my work is in understanding brain development.

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London. Her research covers the development of social cognition and decision-making during human adolescence. She is Co-Director of the Wellcome Trust PhD Programme in Neuroscience at UCL, Editor-in-Chief of the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience journal and was a scientific consultant on the television documentary “The Human Mind” in 2003. She is a member of Royal Society BrainWaves working group for neuroscience and the Royal Society Vision Committee for Maths and Science Education.

In this Talk Prof. Blakemore brings us an animated look at the inner workings of the adolescent brain. Much of what we have thought about brain development over the past few decades is slowly being re-thought. With the advent of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI) we are beginning to see the inner workings of the brain while the brain is working. We don’t have to wait for a person to die to cut into their brain to see whats inside.

We now know that the period of adolescence sees a significant growth in grey matter. A growth spurt to provide the space for the significant intellectual growth that occurs during these formative years. Particularly the growth in the prefrontal cortex, the brains reasoning centre, seems to increase during this stage. Anyway, enough from me. Over to Professor Blakemore for more interesting insights into adolescent brains.


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Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Why young people need youth work more than ever.

Young people need youth work

The past decade has been a time of immense struggle throughout the world. Mass killings, war, famine, natural disasters, political upheaval and ideological struggles have been the norm for the world. In the midst of the chaos young people have stood together to find a different way. Whether it was the arab spring, the fighting in Crimea or the riots in London young people have seen the way the world is turning out and are questioning some long held truths about economy, education and existence. 
 
Youth work
 
Many see this questioning as rebellion and a lack of respect for long held traditions and laws or worse radicalisation. During the London riots Young people were called delinquents and trouble makers by  educators, policy makers and bureaucrats for asking why education costs so much. Around the world young people are being killed for challenging governments who oppress. Young people are no longer believing the long held truths at face value. Lets be honest, why should they. Those long held truths are causing them to question their future options and lament the generations before.
 
It is in to this fray that youth work is at its most effective. Young people are seeking answers but they are still formulating questions. They know that things aren’t right but they are unsure of how to address the causes. They want to be heard and understood. Youth work as a profession has sought to guide, support and listen to the young people we serve for over one hundred years. Now more than ever young people need to be heard. 
 
Youth workers hold a skill set that supports, listens and guides young people. It is this skill set that young people need and for our society to move forward it is this skill set which needs to be embraced. 
 
What do you think? Leave us a comment below.

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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We must change our thoughts in youth work.

Perception. It is what causes many of the issues I see every day. It is also something that I have been thinking about a lot lately. Whether it is our perception of our clients, others perceptions of us or our perception of ourselves; how we think about the world informs our actions within it.

In the therapeutic world this is something that has taken hold through therapies such as CBT and REBT which ask us to change our way of thinking about issues and situations. The paradigm of positive psychology echoes this also. How we look at our situation denotes how we will stand up to the issues we are facing.

Our world is hurting. It seems like every time I turn on the news some new atrocity has happened. People are being killed, raped, cheated and broken by their fellow man. When working with our young people we hear the stories of brokenness that encompass their lives. It would be easy to se the world as beyond hope.

For us to show the hope that the world needs we must first change how we think about it. May of those who know me best believe that I am an eternal optimist. When it looks like its at its worst I see hope. When I hear of people turning against each other I look to peace. When I see people hurting I look to restoration. This does not mean that I am blind to the current situation, on the contrary I am acutely aware. It meant that I am looking to the future and to hope.

I was not always like this however. When I was a teen myself I was a glass is half empty kind of guy. The world was against me and no one could tell me differently. I always saw the worst in a situation and in others and I suffered for it. We ask our young people to change their way of thinking every day. Perhaps for us as a profession to go to the next level we must change our thoughts as well. If we do we can change the world. 

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Why are you a youth worker?

This week sees the launch of National Youth Week here in Australia. It is about this time every year that I spend some time reflecting on why I am a youth worker. Seeing young people reach their full potential, many against great odds always makes me excited to see youth work at its best. 

When I was younger it was only the support and guidance of a couple of great youth workers that stopped my path towards Jail or death. I saw the worst and best of myself unfold due to their gentle ministering and was given a picture of what life could be like on the other side of my pain and strife. I saw that the life I was surrounded by was not necessarily the life that I had to live for the rest of my days.

It is this sense, that there is more to life than meets the eye, that I hope to impart upon the young people I work with. To help them see past the next five minutes of their existence to a future that glows and excites. This is why I am a youth worker. Why are you?

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Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Mandatory reporting of abuse for youth workers may be a thing of the past.

We have spoken a number of times about the duty of care that youth workers hold to report abuse. In Victoria, youth workers are currently not mandated by legislation to report abuse. However this looks like it will change very soon. In a move to enact recommendations of the Victorian enquiry into child sexual abuse two pieces of legislation are set to be tabled. These pieces of legislation will require all adults to report abuse under threat of jail time if they do not.

See the news article here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-25/failure-to-report-child-sexual-abuse-will-lead-to-jail-term/5343960

We at Ultimate Youth Worker applaud the Victorian government for this move and hope that it comes with the substantial resources required to follow up on the reports to come.

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Professional development for Youth Ministers about youth work.

We know that a significant number of our readers are youth ministers who are seeking to develop a deeper understanding of young people and youth work. We commend this endeavour. One of the slurs thrown at youth ministry is that it is little more than games and coffees… We disagree wholeheartedly. Youth work in a church context has become more and more complex over the years. More youth ministry professionals have sought to bring the training of youth ministers in line with their secular counterparts injecting developmental and psychological understanding into the theological context. 

Over the last couple of years we have had the opportunity to support a number of youth ministries to develop their youth work capacity. Particularly, we have been involved with a movement of the Church towards relational based work with young people. Our work has been to provide a sounding board for ideas and a check and balance process when implementing them. We have also had the privilege of training a number of chaplains in supporting young people, mandatory reporting, suicide intervention and emergency management. These chaplains now have more training than the teachers and principals they work with in adolescent welfare. Over all we have seen a marked increase in training and professional development for those in youth ministry roles towards a more traditional youth work focus.

One group we have been keeping a keen eye on is the team at Youth Vision Victoria &Tasmania. YV, as they are fondly known, have spent a lot of their time developing youth ministers within the Churches of Christ denomination. YV run training and internships, regular professional development breakfasts as well as a number of programs for young people. One other thing that is put out is their quarterly journal ‘Youth Vision Quarterly’.

YVQ February 2014
In the latest edition two articles in particular stood out to me. The first by Mark Conner looks at self care for youth ministers. It could have come straight out of one of our posts on self care with the model used looking very familiar. I was glad to see self care being championed as this is an area that we are really passionate about. The second article by Keith Farmer looks at some of the transitions happening in ministry in Australia. One area that Keith illuminated was that of deeper relational focus in the work. This is also a huge area for youth workers to grapple with.

If you are a youth minister or an interested youth worker I highly recommend the work of the YV crew. Check out there website at http://vic.youthvision.org.au

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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Being principled may get you into trouble

Over the years more people than I can count have told me that my personality and behavioural styles can irk others and cause trouble. For those who know me well it comes as no surprise that on the Myers Briggs I come out as an ESTJ. Put another way I am a high D and a high I in the DISC behavioural style. I can be forceful, single minded and I do not suffer fools. I can also be the life of the party, an over communicator and start projects with gusto. I struggle to finish tasks, I live life in the clouds and absolutely hate to be down in the weeds with the detail. You see I know myself really well. I have spent a lifetime dealing with my demons and looking right into the good, bad and ugly of my innermost being. I am not afraid to face myself in all my glory and point at the flaws… and the positives.
 
However, over the years I have met more people than I can count who do not know themselves and struggle with people who know themselves. These people struggle to understand why you will stand your ground when they see a way to cut corners. They struggle to see why you insist on going the extra mile when they want a quick fix. Most of all they struggle when people point out that they are not up to scratch. 
 
When I begin my lectures with new youth work students I ask them for 100%. I tell them they must know themselves and know their content to the highest standard. I tell them that if they do not want to do this they can leave my sector now. I do not want people who play a half assed game doing a number on the vulnerable young people I care about. As you could imagine this gets under the skin of a number of my students.
 
I believe that youth work is an amazing profession. I believe that most of our colleagues are there for the best and to be the best. I believe we make a difference. But all of this is due to a focus on becoming better than we are right now and a clear understanding that only the best will do. These are the youth workers I want in my sector. These are the youth workers I expect in the sector. If you don’t meet the standard (and your not trying to become better) I will tell you… and I expect that if I was missing the mark you would tell me.
 
Don’t be precious about where you are at. Remember no one person is the Ultimate Youth Worker it is a journey. We all have more to learn and more to become. When someone says that something won’t work and that the way you are doing it ain’t up to scratch cop it on the chin and fix it. Personalities and behaviour types should be the last thing that comes into the equation not the first. In the end get used to people saying you are a trouble maker. Standing up for your principles makes people who are not there yet uneasy.
 

What do you think??? Leave us a comment below.

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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