One of the Five Key Elements for Positive Youth Development is recognition. We know that when staff acknowledge young people’s innate strengths and talents, members feel validated and recognized. We can positively reinforce member’s efforts and persistence through authentic gestures and words of praise, and celebrate their progress and successes.
We can recognize youth for a variety of reasons, in a variety of ways. At my Club, each program area had a youth of the month, who would be awarded a certificate in an all-Club assembly. I also had a display in my room where I would hang up member projects, or even great test scores they would excitedly bring back to me.
But it doesn’t have to just go one way. We can create a culture of recognition at the Club by not just encouraging staff to recognize youth, but through giving opportunities for youth to recognize one another. And don’t forget staff! Managers can recognize their staff in lots of ways (check out this blog post to learn 5), and we can encourage youth to do the same.
Since we all have to decorate our program areas anyway, I think it is a great idea to incorporate opportunities for recognition into the decor at the Club! I searched on Pinterest for some ideas, and here are a few of my favorites:
Many of the displays I found involve using post-it notes. This one is super colorful!
I like this example because it is specific. It guides youth to think about how someone demonstrated a specific quality, plus it can be switched out easily and often to keep it fresh.
Doors can be used for decor too!
THE WORD TOOTLING IS JUST THE CUTEST AND IMAGINE ALL THE JOKES I LOVE IT
I think this one is the most classroom-oriented because it is clearly for if you have the same group of kids all day, but if your Club is set up where members stay with one staff member, then it could work, or would be good for a staff affirmation station.
Speaking of staff, I like that this one has instructions right on the board.
Here is another that is specifically designed as a staff shout out, but you could use the megaphone idea for youth as well. There’s a free printable at the link in the caption.
Speaking of free printables, the next few links all have them!
At Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains, Club Director Monika Keenan created a dry-erase display in a hallway in the Club for members to write messages of encouragement to each other.
Another common recognition tool used in classrooms are brag tags. This blog post gives an overview of how they work, but be warned that all of their links cost money. They could be adapted for the Club context pretty easily, maybe with some additional “Clubified” tags.