This week on the Thrive! blog we have the pleasure of introducing to you two members of our Youth Advisory Council, Carly Yuan and Lena Ji. Recently, Carly and Lena, along with our Youth Leadership Coordinator Amanda Bordonaro, had the opportunity to attend present at the More & Better Approach (MBA) Symposium in Barrie, Ontario. This conference, co-hosted by a number of youth-focused organizations, is designed as an opportunity for organizations and individuals who work with youth (ages 13-19 years) to get together for the purpose of improving youth development programs in our communities. 

Carly, Lena, and Amanda were present at the Symposium to share the results of a comprehensive examination of youth perceptions about recreation and after school activities in the Region of Peel, including their needs, interests, barriers and recommendations for increasing participation among young people. 

The research will be a key component informing PCYI’s upcoming Recreation and After School Strategy, to be launched in the spring of 2013. The strategy will outline a comprehensive five year plan for improving recreation opportunities for you in Peel Region. Youth voices are the core of the recommendations, and all of PCYI’s work. We hope you’ll check our blog as well as our Facebook and Twitter accounts often for updates on this exciting initiative! 

First things first, what is the MBA Symposium? 

Carly: The MBA (More and Better Approach) Symposium is an annual conference for the staff and organizers of youth programs, where they present the works of their organizations.

Lena: It was a day dedicated to managers, staff of youth development and youth working together to engage more participation in extra-curricular programs.

What was your role at the Symposium? 

Carly: Prior to the conference, we conducted surveys at many schools in Peel, and then analyzed and grouped the results. At the conference, we were able to present PCYI’s findings about the opinions of students about after school recreational activities. We presented our preliminary findings using a PowerPoint that grouped the most popular answers with the highest percentages.  We also had a very talented student from Glen Forest Secondary School to film a powerful video that included real-life interviews we conducted with some students in Peel. The video was a very effective way to display our findings, and our audience was very engaged in what we had to share with them.

What do you think is the greatest advantage of an event like the MBA Symposium? 

Lena: As a youth, it was refreshing to view the planning perspective of these programs as opposed to the usual participation in them. I found myself agreeing with a lot of material that was being presented, namely when one presenter said they found in a survey that kids enjoy when adults arrange them into groups so they can have the chance to meet new people. That’s dead on! I was quite intrigued by the fascination with captivating youth engagement that radiated the room, as well as thankful, because finally it seemed like adults were listening to us and that the wall of miscommunication was finally being torn down!

Carly: Overall, the MBA Symposium was a wonderful experience that I am glad to have participated in. I had a great time representing PCYI, and listening to all the other amazing presentations there. This experience is definitely something that I would participate in again, hands down!

What was one of the greatest challenges you encountered at the MBA Symposium? 

Carly: I have to admit, it was slightly nerve-wracking for me to present in front of such a professional group of program organizers. I could feel my legs shake and my hands sweat from nervousness. Thankfully, I got more comfortable and confident throughout the presentation because I truly believed in what I had to present.

Lena: Although I was extremely nervous to the point of almost vomiting before the presentation, afterwards, all I felt was a warm feeling inside. I believe that the contributions our team made at the presentation, and in general, helped bring everyone one step closer to the goal of engaging youth in these extra curricular programs, no matter how large that step may be.

Carly: At the end, we got some amazing feedback from the audience. It was wonderful to see them so interested in what PCYI had to share. One of the organizers there was extremely supportive of our presentation. She loved what we had to present, and wants us to keep in contact with her so we can work together to solve the problems with recreational programs.

Why do you think attending the MBA Symposium will be significant for other youth in the Peel community?

Lena: Youth are pretty complex creatures to figure out. I’d like to think of us as puzzle pieces for the adults to decipher and piece together eventually, although the process won’t be easy. Presenting the research compiled by the Youth Advisory Council’s past months of hard work felt like a step further in that process. It was invigorating to share the information we’ve uncovered throughout our surveys and focus groups.

What is the value in being a member of PCYI’s Youth Advisory Council?

Carly: Being part of PCYI is an amazing opportunity that I am very proud to be part of.  PCYI helps to make sure young people in Peel are valued and are living in a healthy environment where they can have opportunities that help them reach their full potential.  It’s amazing to be part of an organization where I can represent the student voices of Peel, and I get to share my opinions and ideas.

About Lena & Carly  

Lena's Profile PictureLena Ji is currently a grade 12 student at Glenforest Secondary School and a candidate of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. She loves being involved in extracurricular activities that contribute to a better society, and enjoys helping people — a bit excessively during the holidays! Lena spends her spare time as a proud PCYI general council member, a volunteer at Trillium hospital, a clarinet player in her school’s senior wind ensemble and as a business enthusiast at the DECA business competition. As a lover of piano and nature, she spends many evenings admiring the winter scenery while jamming to some Christmas carols! She wishes everyone at the blog post team a happy holiday and all the best in the new year! Screen Shot 2013-01-01 at 11.03.16 PM

Carly Yuan is a student who is currently attending grade 10 at John Fraser Secondary School.  She is very involved with volunteering in the community, from looking after young children in Saturday School, to playing instruments for choirs. Her hobbies and interests include photography, painting and classic works of literature. Carly is dedicated student who is striving to reach her goal of becoming a successful architect.  She is currently an active youth volunteer at PCYI.

To learn more about PCYI’s Youth Advisory Council or to get involved, click here.

Experiencing the MBA Symposium: An Interview With Carly & Lena