WeConnect: A Global Youth Citizenship Curriculum now available
WeConnect is a program model and curriculum designed to show youth that they are participants of a global society, inspiring a sense of understanding and confidence in relating and connecting to other people. The curriculum includes a coordinated series of experiential and interactive exercises that prepare youth to thrive in culturally diverse settings--whether these settings are part of their school day, home life, social life, or workplace--by giving them the opportunity to learn and use culturally responsive skills and knowledge. These skills are based on an international education approach, which is one specific form of cultural education that guides youth beyond knowing that they are citizens of the globe to an acknowledgement of their responsibilities to each other and the world around them. It is designed for nonformal educational settings such as afterschool programs or clubs with middle school-aged youth (grades 6-8 and ages 11-14), but can be adapted to suit both younger and older age groups.
The exercises are organized into four phases of building cultural knowledge and skills:
- Phase 1: Exploring
- Phase 2: Stretching
- Phase 3: Challenging
- Phase 4: Connecting
(May 2014) Leaders from a variety of community organizations including educators, foundations, businesses, municipalities, faith-based organizations and youth participated in a two-day summit at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis to develop ideas on how to enhance social and emotional learning (SEL). A growing base of research shows that SEL is critical for success in school, college, career and life. SEL helps to prevent bullying, enhance school climate, encourage healthy decision making, and reduce the need for discipline.
Day one featured research by Gil Noam of Harvard University and Kimberly Schonert-Reichl from the University of British Columbia, a youth panel and community conversation to develop recommendations for action to move SEL forward in the state or their communities. Day two featured Noam and Schonert-Reichl speaking with leaders of youth-serving organizations and educators about the opportunities that emerge when measuring youth holistically and how neighborhoods, schools and programs use data to enhance social and emotional development in young people.
The two-day summit had nearly 350 in-person attendees and approximately 150 online attendees. It was co-hosted by the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development and the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI), in partnership with Youthprise.
St. Paul Mayor and National League of Cities President Chris Coleman welcomed the audience and said, “Social and emotional learning skills are critical for 21st century youth. They are fundamental building blocks for success both inside and outside of the classroom. This summit and the national focus on SEL skill development will improve the lives of our youth and strengthen our communities. I call on leaders in the education system, community organizations, businesses and our cities' residents to join in the conversation for how we can best support and enhance SEL skill-building with our youth."
Stay tuned for our upcoming symposia in fall 2014 and spring 2015 which will focus on cultural perspectives of SEL as well as developing strategies for incorporating SEL in practice.