Skill Builders for Youth

Skill Builders for Youth

How does making something out of duct tape help increase youth literacy and essential skills? How can a cooking class develop literacy skills beyond just reading a recipe and measuring ingredients? Can digital technology get young people interested in learning again? The answers were covered in our recent Skill Builders for Youth training event.

Nine participants travelled recently from Deline, Tulita, Fort McPherson, Inuvik, and Hay River for this training. They learned how to embed literacy and essential skills learning into existing youth programs, and how to create new programs. Participants came from libraries, schools, youth centres, and other community groups. Many have worked on youth projects before, and brought many wonderful ideas with them.

The three days were full of learning about the literacy and essential skills that people aged 15 to 29 need to thrive at home, at work, and in their community. The focus was finding ways to develop these skills in fun, informal programs that interest young people. Participants practiced skill-building activities that they can use in their community programs and learned new facilitation techniques. They especially had fun with the digital literacy kit the NWT Literacy Council is developing.

A constant favourite of our youth literacy training is our duct tape activity. Participants had to think, communicate, and work together to create something unique out of duct tape. The teams were given a time limit and only limited supplies other than duct tape. Teams created a coffee cup dog, complete with duct tape collar and stir stick legs, and a woven duct tape basket.

One of my favourite activities is community mapping, where participants identify the physical, human, and other resources that might assist them in their youth literacy programs. Often we forget how many resources we have in our community, and the many people who may be able to help our programs. This activity helps people to expand their thinking about the resources in their community. Even though I have been to each of the five communities that participants came from, I loved learning more about these communities.

Community groups that participate in our Skill Builders for Youth training can access funding through the NWT Literacy Council to run a youth literacy program in their community. We also provide resources and support for the program that they feel is best suited to their community and the interests of local youth. Thank you to the NWT government Department of Education, Culture and Employment for funding this project.

— Katie Johnson

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