Over the past few months this Counseling degree series has focused on theory and how The Youth Connection (TYC) is rooted in psychological and sociological theory. As stated in previous articles, now we will take the time to discuss how we utilize these theories to drive the work that we do.
The picture included in this article is what we call our 360 Cycle of Youth Engagement. As you can see, the first step to any work with do with young people is to build the trust-based relationship.
One way we accomplish this is by conducting Street Outreach. Street Outreach involves one of our Directors and a team of volunteers and interns (all of whom are former street engaged individuals) going out onto the streets of Denver to begin building relationships with youth.
The purpose behind this is to meet youth where they are at as opposed to having youth come to us. We engage youth through basic needs assessment conversations.
The TYC also approaches youth through Urban Arts culture (i.e. Graffiti Arts, Breakdancing, Music, etc). By utilizing a combination of areas of interest to the youth as well as meeting basic needs we begin the lengthy process of creating that safe space for trust-based relationships.
If you recall in the previous articles, we discussed how you cannot move a young person along in growth until their basic needs are met (as discussed in article 2 of the series). This is accomplished by:
- Connecting them with various community resources if what they are in need is something we do not offer.
- Maintaining a policy of follow through and follow up with each youth we refer or work with.
- Ensure that the youth are not only getting the support they need, but through our efforts, we have an opportunity to begin the process of building that trust-based relationship.
When a young person sees you are reliable, the relationship continues to grow on a deeper level, thus allowing staff and volunteers to work with youth on deeper issues and concerns while striving to address the core issues of the challenges in which they face. By doing this, we are beginning to process of the re-mapping of the brain regarding Healthy Attachment (as discussed in Article 1 of the series).
This process of building trust-based relationships takes time and consistency due to the high levels of mistrust, trauma and instability in our youth’s lives. However, it is an essential component to truly work with youth to facilitate the transition “From the Streets, to Stability, to Success,” which is our ultimate goal.
We want to see young people reach all levels of success; after all, they deserve a fighting chance and someone whom will cheer them on each step of the way.
The next part of this series will discuss how we incorporate career exploration through utilizing trust-based relationship, as well as the arts, to begin to move youth away from the cycle of generational poverty.
Heidi Grove began her work in the advocacy field in 1998 when she worked at a local not-for-profit agency in Denver, which provides affordable services for Substance Abuse Treatment. From 2001 to 2008, Grove worked with Gang, Urban and Homeless youth; has presented research findings on youth populations at Local, State, National and International Conferences and her findings have been published in academic journals. In September of 2008, Mrs. Grove independently published her first book, which is a curriculum based intervention for Gang Involved youth. She received a Master of Arts in Counseling from Regis University and was nominated and awarded Regis University’s most prestigious Social Justice Award. Since graduation, Heidi Grove became the co-found of the nonprofit, The Youth Connection (TYC), supporting and caring for at-risk youth in Denver. She is currently a member of Chi Sigma Iota International Honors Society, and is a participant of multiple state and local committees that address: Juvenile justice, policy reform, and research. Follow TYC on Facebook and Twitter.