This year, YouthBuild Lawrence has added a project-based block to the student’s schedule where they apply their learning to solve real world problems. Some of the skills that students were learning were research skills, map-reading skills, topography, team-work, cooperation and oral-speaking from presenting their work.
Johanka Heredia, pictured left, was part of recreating a map of the United States. This project was part of a larger project that included biographies of famous Americans and a timeline of major events that led to the formation of our Country as we know it today.
YouthBuild Lawrence builds low-income housing units in the community to combat poverty and homelessness. Pictured here are seven of the students who worked on a scale model of the alternative school’s new project. Students did all the calculations and mathematical functions to create the three story proportional model from information on the architectural blueprints.
Additional projects that students have worked on include life-skills projects, career projects, and community service projects. Currently students are analyzing their communication style, creating PowerPoints identifying the path to their chosen career in the near future, and analyzing the societal cost of addictions. YouthBuild Lawrence seeks to educate students to be independent and critical thinkers who become successful young leaders and powerful agents of change in their communities while simultaneously building meaningful and self-sufficient identities for themselves.
Brianna Payne's Speech from YouthBuild Day at the State House - April 14, 2016
Good morning everyone. My name is Brianna Payne. I am 20 years old, originally from New Bedford and I recently relocated to Springfield. I am speaking to you all today to share my journey and my experience at YWCA YouthBuild Springfield.
I was supposed to graduate high school in 2014. Due to certain circumstances, I was unable to graduate. I then gave birth to my two children in December of 2014. I struggled for about a year, deciding how I was going to accomplish my goals of getting my diploma and attending college. Becoming homeless with my two newborn babies was the most challenging obstacle I had to overcome.
I relocated to Springfield where I was given the greatest opportunity I’ve ever received in my life. It was a new beginning that gave me hope for a brighter and promising future. The YWCA where I currently live had referred me to the YWCA YouthBuild program.
I was a little skeptical at first because I had wanted a high school diploma and I had felt that I was lowering my standards. However, YouthBuild is one of the most extraordinary programs I’ve had the privilege of being a part of. There are tremendous benefits, opportunities and advantages that YouthBuild has provided me within just a short amount of time.
We have amazing staff and support counselors that work to help each of us with our own individual needs. The YouthBuild program is preparing me to be self sufficient and giving me the ability to further my education and move on to college.
I plan on attending Holyoke Community College in the spring of 2017 for Psychology and Criminal Justice thanks to the support, encouragement and motivation of YouthBuild. I am honestly so appreciative, grateful and privileged to say that I’ve made it here today through my personal perseverance, hard work and dedication but also the support from the director and staff at the YWCA of YouthBuild Springfield. Thank you all so much.
The YWCA of Western Massachusetts YouthBuild Springfield program recently held an Open House at their site that attracted an overflow crowd of community supporters. One focal point of the event featured the Tiny Home that students have been building. This project is part of a statewide effort of the Massachusetts YouthBuild Coalition and will be used to provide housing for a homeless veteran. This project was funded in part by a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service, as one of only five grants awarded nationally for 911 Remembrance. This is an excellent teaching project because it involves all of the skills needed to construct a full size house, but can be completed more quickly due to the size. Another part of the project was the education of the students about the events of 911 and the impact that it had on people all over the world because of the events of that fateful day, an event that happened when they were small children.
Mayor Domenic Sarno offered words of encouragement to the students and was also very pleased to see the work that the students performed to help out a fellow citizen in need. He was especially taken by the words of the YouthBuild students. During the event, the students welcomed their guests and gave them a guided tour of the facility. They spoke in glowing terms about the opportunity that YouthBuild provides them. They were happy to talk about how much they had learned since enrolling in the program.
Listening to them talk about the work on the tiny house revealed an amazing sense of pride in their accomplishment. They readily described the various features of the structure and the role that they played in the construction. The satisfaction and achievement that the students took from this experience told the story. The smiles on their faces needed no explanation.