Our Experiential Education program is one of the wrap-around services offered to participants at The Matthews House, which includes fun, engaging groups for the youth. Two of these are Guys and Girls Groups, which allow youth to participate in organized activities where they can connect with others and grow in areas like self-esteem, perseverance, problem-solving skills, and coping skills. The activities aim to help youth increase independent living skills like budgeting, resume-writing, and active listening, while also focusing on topics surrounding character and what it means to be a successful man or woman in today’s world.
Guys Group gives young men the opportunity to engage in relationships with peers and adult figures. This past year, for example, Guys Group spent part of a session going through some of the “top 100 things men need to know,” which upon first hearing that sounds both hilarious and very practical. Each week, the youth would try to learn one on the list, like how to start a fire or change a tire. Some of our guys also went on a snowy spring break trip to the mountains!
“When kids have these opportunities to try things that they wouldn’t normally have tried, they have a chance to find something that sparks interest or hope” – Shawn Keefer, EE Director
Girls Group challenges our female youth to better understand healthy relationships and activities to engage in. This past year, Girls Group spent ten weeks learning about the signs of human trafficking, went on hikes, baked treats, and had a good ol’ fashioned sleepover at our Youth & Family Center. The sleepover was a fun, light-hearted experience many girls had never had, including making dinner, experimenting with makeup, and braiding hair, all while discussing confidence and brainstorming their strengths.
This program serves as a base to foster friendships and support at a trying time in a youth’s life, through positive relationships and valuable experiences. Youth have the chance to be part of positive interactions with peers and receive healthy feedback from adults. Full participation from the staff and volunteers involved allows the adults to teach soft skills while taking part in activities right alongside our youth. We’re always excited to see what our Guys and Girls Groups will do next!