Youth build relationships with their mentors, peers, and other Friends–Seattle staff while participating in outings. Outings aren’t just fun activities to open our youth up to new experiences; they are always intentionally planned around a bigger goal. Our youth are always learning, whether it’s a task or skill they try for the first time, or a recurring activity that is a go-to with their mentor, or an opportunity to create a safe space for them to just be themselves.
Last year was an especially important year for youth to reconnect with peers after being apart so much during the pandemic. Our youth expressed confidence, joy, and belonging during activities that also prompted them to practice various skills they can apply in their everyday lives.
In the summer, our youth took their teamwork skills to the diamond with a game of kickball. Their opponents were none other than their very own mentors. Youth worked together on a team, strategizing and showing sportsmanship. Our youth may have won by scoring more points, but they also won in the task of pro-social development.
While the weather was warm, a group of our youth and mentors also grabbed their paddles and hit the water, kayaking on Lake Union. Many youth accomplished important developmental endeavors, such as improved health, building relationships with others they usually don’t spend time with, making good choices, and trying their best to stay dry and not fall in the water.
Youth often come to our office to take part in group activities as well. One mentor taught a group how to do bullet journaling, encouraging youth to set goals and track progress in many different topics such as school or even self-care. Mentors also found ways to connect baking to school success by hosting a baking outing where youth read recipes, followed instructions, and found the right way to measure ingredients needed for desserts. Not only did they get something sweet out of it, they did so while being safe and working independently towards a goal.
While our model is based on professional mentorship between a salaried mentor with their youth, Friends-Seattle finds ways to promote collective and group learning and skill building over the course of the year with many shared activities.