Fast on the heels of last week’s piece on the 35 experiences of youthworkers comes this reflection on the superpowers that youthworkers are expected to possess, given the range of questions, reflections and comments about the last piece, it figures that youthworkers are expected to be superheroes? Doesnt it.. well at least they might have to at times possess all or some of the following:
1. To live off adrenaline after 3 60 hour weeks and a weekend residential at the end of them
2. To only take school holiday holidays but be able to find holidays they can afford without a teachers salary. Oh and plan 3 holiday club weeks and summer trips for the other weeks. And take that weeks holiday and switch off…
3. To become the manager of your own management group who may have 2 weeks youthwork experience between them. To manage upwards with no management experience (often)
4. To work with a smile even when there’s only 3 months funding left (a requirement for some funders who won’t fund projects with long term reserves)
5. To be able to take young people off the streets. Or get them jobs when there arent any.
6. To help young people like/persevere/cope with church* (*could also mean school) – or as one contributor suggested: ‘Be capable of fully explaining the reason why young people don’t attend church and fixing it without changing Sundays one bit’
7. To divert young people into being part of the capatalist system.
8. To be the only people left in the society who want to talk, sex drugs and alcohol with young people.
9. To provide young people with the tools for resilience, when they themselves might not be coping
10. To be able to retrieve information from every movie, song or sports event in the last 30-40 years and use it in conversation or for a session
11. To find the magic funder, that no one else has found , who will fund good youthwork and fund good salaries and core costs
12. To be amphibious and chameleonic – to be able to work in a number of settings whilst trying to be facilitative and almost invisible.
13. To be eternally youthful – even though they grow old – to never give up the fight for equality, against injustice and to maintain a view that transformation is possible – and not be resigned to fate. (though that doesnt mean trying to be like young people’) To keep pushing for something better…
14. To be ready to listen, to be ready with questions, to be ready with suggestions for conversations with young people – but maybe not ever ready with solutions and the ‘fix’
15. To empathise with those in structures like teachers and clergy who trust you in conversations – without thinking – ‘yeah I wish I had your problems that involved job insecurity and funding… ‘
16. To get stuff for free on discount, like trips and activities – be the great convincer or bargainer – then the great apologetic when the young people trash the venue.
17. To have the endless time to commit to your own ongoing CPD, further reading, studying, career development and fund your own retreats.
18. To be able to say no to a young person without offending them and maintaining the relationship
19 To do all what you do that young people and volunteers see, with next to no need for any planning (at least thats what your timesheet says)
20 To manage other peoples expectations of what you’re actually able to do
and an extra…
21. To have the ability not to get caught reading this blog during your work day
What ones do you have? Which ones do you need right now? Which ones might help see you through this weekend?
You are a superhero, regardless if you dont think you possess all of these things, as what tends to happen if that you’ll find a way to be able have these superpowers and grow into them. Its just sort of what happens. You rise to the next level, in the new situation you find yourself, whether that’s managing volunters, staff, funding, or strategising, or working in schools or developing a project. Thats the true mark of the superhero youthworker, you rise into the roles, and well, as Freire said, make the road by walking them.
what superhero powers would you add?
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