Youth Find Meaning, Confidence, and Friends at Work

WorkWell has wrapped up another successful summer of hard work, acquired skills and friendships. Both near-peers and youth spent seven weeks working and learning alongside one another as a team, resolving conflict, and growing personally and professionally. New relationships were evident on the last day as they multiple of them muttered, “I'm gonna need all y’all’s numbers." Don't worry, she was assured, another made a group chat. Another shouted: “Everyone better come back next year!” Four youth were skipping down the hallway in laughter.

Though they were coworkers, they built friendships by working through project development and challenges often faced in their work. Even with their near peers, youth struggled to say goodbye as they exchanged hugs and thank you’s on the last day.

  These young people had the opportunity to work while also learning how to cultivate a healthy work   environment  . 

These young people had the opportunity to work while also learning how to cultivate a healthy work environment

In part, the friendships developed because the work was something they enjoyed. Though not everything seemed "fun" at first, the more they learned, the more they realized it's greater meaning. For example, the garden team tested the use of gutter gardens to see whether or not it could be of use in the four international regions where G.O.D. Int'l works. Another team planned and facilitated sessions for kids at Camp Skillz (45 sessions in total). They learned new capacities within themselves and how enjoyable using those gifts could be: “I really love teaching kids new things. Their excitement to learn made me excited to teach!" 

We began the summer with 22 youth employees. All 22 continued in their employment and all of them left thankful for the experience! In an exit survey given to the youth, they all rated the program with either an 8, 9, or 10, with final remarks on their survey such as, “Thank you G.O.D. for making me a better person!” and, “This has been the best job opportunity ever.”

One of the greatest accomplishments was the confidence that the employees said they gained over the summer. One said, “I really want to do better in school this next year. I know I can.” Another said the final presentation he gave for his work project was something he never thought he could do. His manager responded, “And you not only did it, but you did it so well.” This confidence was no doubt a result of our committed near-peers. They spent intentional time setting goals, giving feedback and speaking into the lives of each individual youth employee. One parent commented "My daughter's confidence skyrocketed." 

  In the final closing survey,   youth   said that their near peers were the greatest! That they felt deeply impacted by the care they were shown over the summer.

In the final closing survey, youth said that their near peers were the greatest! That they felt deeply impacted by the care they were shown over the summer.

Throughout our surveys, employees across the board said they felt more confident to receive constructive criticism, take initiative, resolve conflict, communicate professionally with peers and managers and to self-manage a project than they had been at the beginning of the summer. They also said they felt more confident about creating a resume and in a job interview as they prepare for future jobs. 

What was "the best" part of their experience? Here are a few replies: 

“The values and workplace etiquette you all set out to teach are being exemplified by the near peers and managers.”
“Meeting new people and getting to help others!”
“Improving my self-esteem/confidence.”
“I loved our near peers! They helped us maintain a serious demeanor in the workplace while having fun as well!”
“Making memories with friends while doing something I love.”

Summer 2018 closes another chapter for WorkWell.  We are so thankful for the opportunities all these young people were able to receive as they move one step closer to becoming responsible adults who can contribute good things to the world around them.