In early March, LLI’s Teen Center launched its weekly leadership program for teens ages 13-17. The goal of this new program is to provide teens a space where they can ask questions, learn more about themselves and their community, and grow both as individuals and as leaders within the Center and whatever other communities they are a part of. We began with a focus on communication during the first eight weeks of the program.
Each week involves a series of activities led by the Teen Program Manager and teens themselves, filled with lots of questions and laughs. During the first module, activities ranged from learning about active listening, types of communication, the importance of respecting differing opinions, and finally preparing for and executing a debate. The debate was a favorite activity of most teens; they debated in groups the hypothetical question: Should reggaeton music be prohibited? It was especially fun to see the teens realize that you don’t have to agree with a position to debate for it, and to see the discussion grow more and more passionate as they tried to convince each other of their respective side.
breakers each week helped teens get to know each other and become more comfortable interacting with each other and voicing their opinions, and weekly journaling lets teens practice expressing themselves in a less traditional way.
About 8-10 students attended each week, and throughout the first eight weeks, teens shared many lessons they learned: some felt more comfortable speaking in front of people, others revealed that they had never thought about how important listening is as an active and not a passive activity. We discussed how communication affects relationships with friends, how social media plays a role in our communication habits, and how we all communicate different with family vs. friends vs. others. By the end of the first unit of the leadership program, we all were paying more attention to the way we speak and listen, and how that can help us be leaders in the Center, in our schools, and in our families.
After finishing this communication module, future modules will focus on community, the environment, health, relationships, and vocations and professionalism. We look forward to continuing to grow together!
Written by Christine White, Teen Center Program Manager. Photos by Christine White.