YELL is a youth leadership program run by Burnaby MoreSports, a non-profit organization that provides sustainable sport and physical activity opportunities for children and families living in Burnaby. MoreSports is a collaboration between the Burnaby School District, the City of Burnaby and the South Burnaby Neighbourhood House. These partners work together to encourage involvement from children who do not currently participate in sports or who face barriers to participation.
The YELL program has a simple mission: To recruit, train and mentor youth volunteers in contributing to the communities served by Burnaby MoreSports while developing leadership and life skills.
• A positive attitude
• Willingness to be a good role model
• Eagerness to make a difference in kids’ lives
• Ability to volunteer for at least one MoreSports shift per week
• Attendance at training
Each MoreSports’ shift is 2.5 hours long. Kids are registered in programs that run twice a week. Most volunteers choose to come for both these days and volunteer 5 hours a week. Students from all faculties are all welcomed to volunteer!
YELL volunteers will receive leadership development training for FREE. Some of the courses offered through the program are:
• HIGH FIVE: Healthy Child Development
• NCCP Theory
• Community Coaching Clinics
• Leadership workshops
Shawna Lum, an SFU alumus I first met at this month’s Peer Into Your Career event, is currently serving as Burnaby MoreSports’ Program Coordinator. I asked her to share some more information about the YELL program and how it can help you develop work-related skills.
Q: What are some of benefits of volunteering for the YELL program?
A: YELL is a lot of fun! If you love kids and sports, then it’s a perfect combination. The MoreSports kids really look up to the volunteers and love playing with them.
The unique thing about this youth leadership program is how “hands-on” it is. You receive some initial training, but most of the learning happens by actually getting in there and trying it. Everyone comes in with different experiences and comfort levels and has the opportunity to work and challenge at their level.
The volunteers and staff work together as a coaching team to provide the best possible experience for everyone involved. Following each MoreSports session, the coaching team (staff and volunteers) meet and debrief. This is a great opportunity to figure out how to better solve problems next time, share strategies and set plans and goals for future sessions.
Volunteers also receive training and leadership development opportunities free of charge. This stays with the volunteers and can help them with their future jobs or volunteer placements. This past season, volunteers received free High Five certifications (standard for BC instructors in child recreation and sport). They also had the opportunity to attend an inspiring presentation on how to use their experiences to help win scholarships. This coming season also includes a weekend at Camp Howdy!
Many of the volunteers have also used YELL hours towards high school graduation or to get great references for future work.
Q: What skills can volunteers expect to develop through the YELL program?
A: The program provides lots of practical experience working with kids, coaching sports and developing general leadership skills. Volunteers have lots of opportunities to work one-on-one with kids, to plan practices, to lead activities and to work with and learn from fellow coaches!
More specifically, volunteers are mentored as they take initiative to adapt activities, create safe but fun environments, develop appropriate lesson plans, manage groups of kids and work in a team to run a program smoothly. Volunteers have commented on how they have improved their confidence in instructing a group, communicating, resolving conflicts and developing organizational skills.
Q: After the training, what would a typical shift look like for volunteers?
A: MoreSports programs run from 3-5pm, with the younger kids (grades 2/3) in the first hour and the older kids (grades 4/5) in the second hour. Volunteers show up at 3pm while the first group of MoreSports kids are having their snack and some free play.
The next hour is spent with some fun warm up games (tag, etc.), followed by some drills/relays/activities, and then usually a game. Volunteers help run the practice and keep things fun and engaging.
We then repeat the general plan, but with more challenging modifications for the older group. At 5pm MoreSports ends and the coaching team all debrief together. It’s a great learning process as those who don’t have a lot of experience working with kids get to see how the process works, then take on a bigger role when they help lead the older kids, and then discuss it and help make plans for the next time – all within the same shift!
Q: What are some of the challenges volunteers may encounter? How will Burnaby MoreSports help volunteers overcome these challenges?
A: Volunteers have found the most challenging part to be getting the group of kids focused at the same time. The kids have a lot of energy and trying to explain an activity can be challenging. Fortunately, the volunteers are usually most comfortable with engaging the children one-on-one. As a coaching team we use this strength to support each other when leading a larger group. As well, the debriefs are helpful for discussing challenges like this, providing feedback and sharing strategies to try the next time.
To apply, please email Shawna Lum or call 604-376-0556. Please note that MoreSports programs start on April 13, 2010. Orientation for new volunteers starts next week.
By Kelvin Claveria