PeerUp! Creating Youth-Adult Partnerships

PeerUp! Creating youth-adult partnerships! 3 words were all I needed to hear to know PeerUp! is a success. We use many methods to measure programs. We call them evidence-based, best practice, but what does that really mean? 3 little words, "I choose Debi," let me know PeerUp! is working. PeerUp! Is a project being piloted at FosterClub Headquarters on the Oregon coast. It is a series of meetings, mixed with entertaining activities and workshops. Volunteer adult mentors, young leaders, foster youth and former foster youth meet weekly to eat, connect, learn and occasionally adventure together. One of the primary goals of PeerUp! is to create youth-adult partnerships or connections designed to provide ongoing local support for transitioning youth. PeerUp! Is also designed to give youth the soft skills they need to transition to adulthood through peer to peer training provided by young leaders. This week at PeerUp! we met on the beach in Seaside, Oregon. Young leaders led a "True Colors," workshop around a bonfire. "True Colors," is fun and interactive way to find out if your personality is an affectionate 'blue,' a competent 'green' or other color personality. After the workshop, volunteer adult mentors shared a hobby. Everyone enjoyed sticky s’mores and mallows roasted over our fire. As part of our closing ritual adult mentors and youth pair up and pick a question out of the question jar. Then they answer the questions and decide their favorite question and answer. The questions include things like, “If you received notice you were going to Hogwarts, what would you pack? An owl, a broom, a magic wand or a dragon?” and “Name a movie or book character that best describes you.” I began passing the question jar as youth and adults did the awkward dance of choosing a partner for the activity. I saw one youth I will call Andy (name changed) standing apart and alone. I offered to partner with Andy but heard 3 words that made me, a FosterClub staff member, happy. Andy said, “I choose Debi,” And confidently walked smiling to one of the volunteer adult mentors. I watched what I believe could be a permanent connection begin. For weeks, they have shared little things they have in common. Meeting after meeting, they have slowly gotten to know each other. There by the fire, they were comfortable enough to risk and choose each other. Maybe someday when Andy is apartment hunting and needs help, they will reach out to Debi. Or maybe if Debi hears of a job she knows is perfect for Andy, she will make a phone call. PeerUp! A room full of youth just like you, adults who care and food. Who knew… If you want to learn more about PeerUp! email [email protected] or call: (503) 717-1552