They told us it took dedication. They told us that this Teen Outreach thing was something done nationwide. A good resume builder, a good thing to be a part of. The way that Michelle and Danielle and Michael described TOP made me think that it’d be volunteering at soup kitchens and supporting a charity, but it turned out to be having intensive sex talks and playing with DSLR cameras and a cat named Persephone. Not at the same time, of course.
When we first joined, nothing spectacular happened. I’m not even sure if our very first meeting was discussing ROPES, but it was definitely one of our earliest. For us it stood for Respect, Optimistic, Proactive, Equity, and Support. To get respect is to give respect. To have a great outcome you have to hope for a great outcome. You can’t just participate by contributing one little thing, but be fully present and actively listening. We didn’t pick equality. We picked equity. Everyone deserves a chance, but that chance may not be enough for one individual who could very well succeed, and that chance may not be necessary for another, for everyone has strengths and things they can work on. The moment they become weaknesses is when there’s no support, which is more than just encouragement but actually being there for someone. Since creating our ROPES, we have never felt the need to remind another about them.
Then came the learning activities. Thinking about a quote then free-writing. Bidding on a goal we want to achieve with fake money. Having Danielle look up different forms of contraception just to scare me. As funny as it can sometimes get during our meetings, we all had something positive to say at the end. The most common thing said was that it feels like we did a lot today.
But the main requirements wasn’t just to go to the meetings. There was the service learning projects, and a total of 20 hours that we needed to achieve by the end of our term. Anxiety filled the air — for some but not all. Some people didn’t show up anymore. The list of different places to do volunteer work was figuratively in the trash. However, there came a time when we finally shifted to creating a schedule for community service learning projects — something that was a relief to several. The positives turned from “we did a lot today” to “this seems so real now”. Next thing you know, we were petting a cat named Persephone at an animal shelter, and taking photos with a Canon t5i in front of a green screen at COSI. It was finally Kaleidoscope on TOP of things.
KYC Youth and Staff. Please feel free to comment and recommend topics for future posts. Youth posts are anonymous due to the confidentiality of the Center.