A Youth Village: Innovative Approaches To Serve At-Risk Youth

Editor’s note: This is part of a series entitled “Innovative Approaches to Serve At-Risk Youth.”

We know from one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies on interventions for at-risk youth, that traditional interventions are not likely to work. Surprisingly, approaches like counseling, mentoring, homework help and camp, do have an effect. A negative one.

But that doesn’t mean we should just give up. Instead it means that we need to move from traditional to innovative approaches to support youth at risk.

This post is part of a series where we will look at innovative ideas that show promise for a supporting at-risk youth to realize their potential.

In this piece, we will look at a youth village and how it moved the lives of at-risk youth in a positive direction.

Traditional Approach: Boarding Schools for Privileged Youth

Traditionally, boarding schools are an option chosen by wealthy parents to provide more opportunities for leadership for children in a supportive environment. It is also a great step toward independence before graduating from high school. Those parents generally have the financial means to make such an experience possible for their children. However, such opportunities should not only be available to children who were lucky enough to be born into families who could afford this. Research and evidence show that students living in poverty could also benefit from such an experience.  

Innovative Approach: Boarding Schools for At-Risk Youth

Education researcher James Coleman showed that schools’ have minimal impact on students who live in poverty. This is because problems are systemic. However, the American Psychological Association points to one strategy that has been proven to work. That is to improve student’s settings and the conditions within them.

That is exactly the approach taken at Mevo’ot Yam Youth Village. It looks like a tropical resort, but it’s not. Instead it is home to disadvantaged youth who build crucial life skills such as goal setting, endurance, and inner confidence by learning to ride the waves on a surfboard, navigate the sea on a boat, and study to improve marine life.  

The Youth Village serves as a boarding school not to the rich and famous, but to about 400 children from families living in poverty. While children are encouraged to spend weekends and holidays with families, they are no longer constantly surrounded by an environment where they face adverse conditions such as hunger, drug abuse, lack of supervision, or domestic violence. They are surrounded by faculty and staff that emphasize the importance crucial life skills like goal setting, endurance, academic success aligned to talents and interests, teamwork, meeting challenges, and helping others.

Under the guidance of the school and Village staff, the students are responsible for creating their home by the sea. They also work with experts from Universities and organizations to solve real problems today. They are assessed by how they work to solve these problems, creative dialogue they engage in about these problems, and their ability to present their findings and solutions in real world contexts. The youth is know they play a part in the shaping of the sea and thus making the world a better place by tackling important ecological issues.

Students graduate with specific skills that prepare them for success in academic studies or careers in areas such as marine biology and/or the naval services. You can watch this video for insight into the student experience.

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4 Rules for Accessible Images That Will Get You More Views

Innovative educators understand that when posts have images they receive more views and provide a better experience for the reader. What they may not realize is that is only the beginning. You also should describe your images. There are two primary reasons for that. 

1) Search Image Optimization (SEO)
2) Accessible to those who can’t see images because they are visually impaired or because of bandwidth issues.

Here is how to do that on Twitter and blogs.

1) Alt text tags

Describe your image with short, concise, descriptive language like Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda is doing now that Rob Long told him he should
Lin-Manuel Miranda's Facebook post confirming to Rob Long that he will use alt text on Twitter
Visit Rob’s Tweet to learn how to add alt text  

2) Title Text

Your title text is what shows when someone hovers over an image. This means you may want it to have a call to action. For example, you might say to click the image to learn more about the topic. Here’s what that looks like on blogger.

screenshot of what title text and alt text look like on blogger

3) Caption

The caption is the slightly more thorough description of your image for all readers. Another advantage is that captions are more likely to be read then your post. It also provides more context for search engines to understand what you are sharing. You can also use the caption to link to other important information.
Two females at the beach with their dogs: A mini schnauzer and a poodle mix.
Lisa with her friend Brandi and their dogs in Delray Beach.
Lisa’s mini schnauzer, Otto has his own Facebook page

4) Image Name

When you save an image, it receives an ugly, nonsensical name as you can see in the image below.
Screenshot of what an image name looks like before you give it a name.

Give your image a sensible names with a few words to describe it. Think of it like a file you are uploading. 

That’s it. Follow these four rules and it is a win win. You’ll receive more eyes on your post not only because the SEO is increased, but also because those who can’t see adequately with their eyes will now have access to what you shared via a screen reader. 

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