Cool for Kids, Awesome for Community
By Toni Bear - YWCA Green Bay
Since I accepted my position as the YWCA Youth Program Coordinator, just short of a year ago, I have enjoyed experiencing all the YWCA has to offer and watching the programs grow and flourish in the community. Much of this is due to the growing recognition of STEM and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) in the Green Bay area. However, without engaging programs, community organization support, and active community members, collaboration and empowerment deteriorates. By supporting each other, reaching out, and building up connections – everyone has the power to make a difference in the world.
I currently run TechGYRLS, a program that empowers young girls and encourages them to approach STEAM themes and concepts with an open mind. We want them to learn how to use creativity, critical thinking, teamwork, and autonomy to accomplish anything they set their minds to. STEAM fields are generally male dominated, and thus it is important for us to encourage girls who are interested in these areas to explore! In fact, in the past seven months, TechGYRLS has reached over 200 young minds alone! But alone, does not mean without support.
This is why programs, like TechGYRLS are so important. They fuel education and excitement for children, but they also function as collaboration points for community members and organizations. Connections with other organizations help to bolster outreach and facilitate sharing of resources. A great example of this is the research that is being conducted in sync with TechGYRLS. At each TechGYRLS session, data is collected about the girls and their experience with, perceptions of, and confidence about STEAM topics and education. This helps us to see where current gaps lie, in terms of forwarding STEAM education. Preliminary research already shows improvement in girls’ STEAM perception after attending TechGYRLS. It is information like this that is extremely prevalent to our success and, when shared, the success of the community.
Be open and share! Your programs can help form connections, build community support, and increase your success. We instill collaboration in our TechGYRLS program, because it is something that we should all be doing. I am rewarded every day by excited smiles, unique ideas, and stimulating STEAM discussions. It’s because of programs like TechGYRLS that children get to have these amazing experiences, but more importantly the community gets to come together and support these brilliant minds that will, one day, work for the future world.
Want to know more about TechGYRLS? Visit our website at: http://www.ywcagreenbay.org/site/c.7nIGILOkG7IOE/b.9030963/k.F0EC/TechGYRLS.htm