—various Youth Voices
Friends For Change is a democratically run, youth-led/adult guided, trauma-informed, and play-based club in Bellows Falls, Vermont. It recently became a Youth Services program after years of close collaboration. Providing after school and summer programming, it is where youth thrive and learn how to build a stronger community.
Club members have ownership of decision making, design, day-to-day operation and the future direction of Friends For Change. They are involved in coordinating and leading community events and projects that result in positive change, such as playing a pivotal role in community conversations about drug misuse. Other activities include youth-led play, team building games, field trips, swimming, hiking, and biking.
Because the club has been designed for and by youth who have stories of resiliency, Friends for Change provides programming specifically for youth who have experienced trauma associated with poverty, discrimination, and or experiences with foster care and/or family instability. All youth however, are welcome and range in age from elementary through high school.
As a result of participation, youth report:
- an increased sense of belonging
- a chance to develop leadership
- an increase in community involvement
- less substance abuse
- peer support and empathy
- greater self confidence and self compassion
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