Youth Development Programs
There is a wide range in what youth development programs can look like. Crozer Wellness Center’s niche among such programs is youth leadership. In our out-of-school programs we work with relatively small numbers of youth (30-50 per program) over an extended period of time (years, as opposed to weeks or months), training them to take on high-profile leadership roles in the community. Through their leadership, they engage hundreds of other Chester youth and adults. Evaluation of programs focuses on long-term outcomes related to risk-taking behavior as well as short-term and intermediate outcomes customized for each program (examples include increased workforce skills, connection to supportive adults, connection to positive peers, and commitment to education).
The Chester Youth Council
The Chester Youth Council is one group within a larger, citywide initiative led by Crozer Wellness Center: the Chester Youth Collaborative (see Citywide Initiatives, below). The program has been in operation since 2005. The purpose of the Youth Council is to change perceptions among, and about, Chester youth and to inspire youth action through civic engagement, philanthropy, and advocacy.
Youth ages 12-22 who reside within the Chester Upland School District may apply for membership with the Youth Council. Qualified youth must successfully complete 80 hours of baseline training. After they complete their training, Youth Council members are assigned to teams to work on various year-round civic engagement projects throughout Chester (for example, being voting members on boards of community revitalization projects, planning and hosting the annual Chester Youth Empowerment Summit or facilitating forums with Chester youth at large to identify issues of concern). In addition to baseline training, members take part in additional training and personal enrichment activities over the course of each year.
Blueprints/Peer Leader Program
Blueprints is an out-of-school program that began in 2006 and works year-round with a set group of 30 Chester youth. Our participants were in 7th grade when the program started and are currently in the 10th grade. The grant that funds the program will allow us to work with them through their high school graduation in 2012. Partners in the project are:
- Swarthmore College (the official grantee)
- Crozer Wellness Center
- The College Access Center of Delaware County
- The Chester Upland School District
Students affiliated with Swarthmore College's Black Cultural Center provide cultural enrichment and academic enrichment. The College Access Center assists participants and their families in completing each step of the college application checklist. Crozer Wellness Center coordinates the leadership and community service components. Wellness Center staff train participants to act as peer educators for middle school students in the local school district, presenting workshops on life skills and risk reduction education. Wellness Center staff also supervises participants during peer education presentations, coordinate personal enrichment activities and special events for participants, provide transportation for the entire program, and coordinate program evaluation activities. The Chester Upland School district allows access to middle schools for Peer Leaders to give presentations on life skills and risk-taking behaviors to students.
Crozer Wellness Center Alumni Fellowship
The Wellness Center Fellowship is a paid internship open to alumni of Crozer Wellness Center programs on a competitive basis: a limited number of high school seniors per year are awarded slots in the program following their high school graduation. College students who are part of the Fellowship are assigned to various departments throughout the Crozer-Keystone Health System (CKHS) during their summer and winter vacations, up to 30 hours per week. The goals of the Wellness Center Alumni Fellowship are to provide students with exposure to a variety of professional work experiences, to increase the professional skill sets of participants, to groom youth with leadership potential for positions in CKHS, and to provide a source of income for students during college. Students must remain enrolled in college and maintain a strong grade point average to stay in the program. In the past, host departments have included social work, marketing, nursing, and community health.