The Night Ministry's Youth Programs have launched a series of in-person workshops designed to teach a range of life skills to the young people the agency serves. Held at The Night Ministry's Bucktown headquarters, the workshops cover topics ranging from budgeting and apartment living to professional communication and technology.
Instructors include The Night Ministry staff and interns as well as members of the Associate Board, the young professionals who support the mission of the agency through volunteering, fundraising, and advocacy.
"Based upon our wealth of experience working with young people, we knew the themes they have wanted in the past, what they could benefit from, where they always have questions, and in which areas they can grow," said Anthony Monterroso, Youth Diversion Specialist and host of multiple sessions.
Young people also shared direct input on which topics they would find the most helpful, he added.
During each workshop, instructors offer activities, a PowerPoint presentation, and a post-session evaluation form so attendees could share what they enjoyed as well as what could be improved. To-go lunches are provided after every workshop, and those who attend multiple sessions receive a prize acknowledging their achievement.
Engagement in the workshops has been strong. "They speak up, they talk about their own personal experiences, they give their input, they ask questions," said Monterroso. "It's been very good for the young people in several different ways, not just from a learning perspective but it also gives them the chance to speak up when they might not otherwise."
Case Manager and fellow instructor Sarah Warner agreed, "I'm surprised at how comfortable all of the participants have been in terms of sharing their personal experience as it relates to the topics. A lot of them will stick around and approach me afterwards and they'll say, 'I really learned a lot' or, 'I downloaded that app that you talked about.'"
The care and planning behind each session have proven beneficial. "It's a very thorough, thought-out process. It seems like our hard work has paid off because the young people seem to be having fun as they learn," said Monterroso.