Written by Anton Spalding, Middle School Professional Development Specialist, Prime Time Palm Beach County
Since Spring 2022, Prime Time Palm Beach County has had the exciting opportunity to partner with a team of local youth leaders to reimagine the future of out-of-school time. This partnership is part of an expansive initiative called “Powered by Youth Voice: Future Directions for Afterschool”, which is made possible by funding from the Mott Foundation and support from Every Hour Counts and Youthprise. Prime Time’s participation in this initiative has strengthened its determination to embed engaging design thinking processes and meaningful decision-making into current youth leadership efforts, as well as to compensate young people for their contributions.
Six communities were selected to participate in the initiative, including representatives from Chicago, Michigan, Tennessee and Rhode Island. Working closely with a group of eight young people from the Delray Beach-based Milagro Teen Center and Milagro’s Teen Program Supervisor Blair Williams, Prime Time’s Middle School Professional Development Specialist Anton Spalding, coordinated the efforts of the Florida community and helped to provide a warm, supportive environment in which the group could learn and lead authentically.
Through design thinking, peer learning and networking, the team worked alongside the other communities to identify best practices to authentically engage youth in program development and in designing the future of afterschool.
After months of planning and reflection, both virtually and in-person, the Palm Beach County team traveled to Chicago in December 2022 to present their ideas and recommendations for the future of the afterschool field to key stakeholders. The youth representatives in attendance were also given the exclusive task of determining how project implementation dollars would be allocated. As a result of several youth-led conversations, the Palm Beach team was awarded $10,000 to implement its arts-based career program proposal locally.
In May 2023, at Every Hour Count’s “Let’s Make Waves!” annual conference, Anton and a selection of young people from the Milagro team were invited to participate in a special opening panel (pictured below) about their hopes for the future of afterschool and also in a workshop session about their learnings from the initiative.
Authentic youth voice was embedded throughout the conference (gallery below) and young people were given a platform alongside organization leaders to tell their stories and empower others. The conversations were inspiring; the exposure helped to boost the confidence, self-esteem and leadership experience of the youth involved.
What’s to come?
The Palm Beach County team will take the next steps in this initiative: putting the funding they received to work by beginning to implement their ideas locally. They are excited and eager to continue their journey towards creating a brighter future in the out-of-school time field.
Empower Your Teens
If you want to engage the teens you work with in a meaningful way and at the same time prepare them to become future leaders? Starting a Teen Advisory Council (TAC) is a great way to do both! When teens are part of a Teen Advisory Council, they become your partners in designing, planning and implementing programs, and this often leads to stronger youth engagement and higher program participation and attendance. Prime Time Palm Beach County is providing training, support and coaching to help you setup, run and sustain a fun and effective Teen Advisory Council that will empower your teens, enhance your program and strengthen your community.