Let's Get Akward
Throughout history soldiers have used battle cries as a way of embracing their mission and motivating themselves into action. The ancient Greeks shouted out the name of a female deity, Alala (which meant war cry), medieval crusaders bellowed out "Dues vult" (Latin for God wills it).
Other cries brought people back to a moment of tragedy such as "Remember the Alamo!" At Youth Unlimited, we also have a battle cry that we use to embrace our mission and motivate ourselves to action. That cry? Let’s get awkward!
Many youth programs try to motivate youth out of their comfort zones into programs where they don’t know anyone. These might be well-funded programs with amazing staff but because the young people don’t feel a sense of belonging, many of them are not even willing to entertain the thought of attending.We try to take a different stance.
We know that if we want to live out our phrase of "connecting youth and transforming lives" we need to transfer the awkwardness from the youth and to ourselves. We want to go to the places where youth are already spending their time, where we are exposed to their culture, their stories, their customs, and their language. This has to be more than a one-time event or a weekly presence at a school. If we want to create opportunities for meaningful connections and transformation we need to be a consistent presence in their lives.
More often than not we find that by taking an interest in their lives, they will take interest in ours. Although it can take years, we do our best to develop the type of trust and rapport with a young person that matters. All of this because we are willing to make ourselves awkward.