Youth for Unity Teaches Members the Importance of Diversity
Throughout the summer, members of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore (BGCMB) have been developing an appreciation for diversity, equity, and inclusion through the Youth for Unity program. Westport Club Manager Nakita Clark enjoys running the program because it provides members with the tools to “appreciate each other for who we are.” The Youth for Unity program is designed for members to cultivate individuality, build cultural identity, and appreciate diversity by engaging kids in service-learning opportunities and high-yield activities and conversations that help members recognize the experiences and traditions of their peers.
In a recent lesson at our Westport Club, Clark led the students through an icebreaker to get them thinking about the themes of the program. She asked members to line up and take a step to either the left or the right depending on their answer to a “this or that” question. For example, Clark asked if members preferred pasta or pizza, Xbox or PlayStation. To certain questions, members were extremely passionate about their opinion. After the activity, Clark explained that the members’ opinions were just a few examples of how they were all different. “Even though we all have differences, we should respect everyone and be grateful for these distinctions,” Clark concluded.
Next, Clark facilitated an art activity where members decorated a leaf and wrote about the different people that live in their households. Students shared characteristics of their families that made them unique. Zeniyah, 11, spoke about her family from Ghana and the culture of the country. The kids were interested in Zeniyah’s heritage, and especially the food. “At first, I was nervous that people would laugh at me, but I was glad when I shared and people were respectful,” Zeniyah reflected.
Pictured: Zeniyah during the art activity
After the activity, the group discussed what diversity meant to them. Clark ended the lesson by giving the official definition of diversity, and what the concept meant to her personally. She then highlighted the main takeaways with the kids. “I recap the day, so the kids retain the information,” Clark explained.
After the lesson, Ziniah offered to bring in homemade Ghanaian food for the following week. Clark said that she was happy to offer kids an environment that inspires them to be proud of their heritage.
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