This past weekend, I traveled to North Carolina with some fellow coordinators to learn more about a program for the empowerment of junior youth. We specifically focused on how to design campaigns to expand the number of junior youth groups and participants within a neighborhood. What we found was that it requires an intense and cohesive collaboration between the various institutions, that the junior youth groups thrive better when set in the context of other activities, and that there is a role for just about everyone in these campaigns to establish and maintain the groups.
In the October issue of Collaborator Magazine, Mark Hecker challenged readers to be audacious when setting goals. I thought about this idea in the context of the junior youth groups and realized that setting an audacious goal would actually help coordinators overcome some of the challenges to program growth. We typically started a group here and a group there, usually due to the individual initiative of someone who was recently trained to lead – or “animate” – the groups. They would find a few participants, perhaps a few parents to help. But because of participant turnover and residential transience, or simply when participants aged out of the program (it goes from ages 11-14), we found ourselves with the same number of programs and participants fairly consistently over the past year or two. New participants and groups were simply replacing other participants and groups. We weren’t growing.
If we set an audacious goal, and then keep increasing the goal every three months, we will still see the turnover in groups and participants, but due to the sheer volume of numbers, we should be able to actually start multiplying the number activities. There are certainly things that we can do to minimize the turnover – make the groups more engaging, develop relationships with parents and guardians, hold it at more conducive times and in places. But by being audacious, by aiming really high, then what we’ll achieve will be something amazing.