The F.Y.R.E. Initiative develops new ways to connect virtually with Igniters
With most K-12 schools and extracurricular programs in the Boston area operating either fully or partially virtual, educators are trying to determine how to best connect with students. Fortunately, staff from YW Boston’s program, The F.Y.R.E. Initiative, have developed new ways to connect with their middle school participants. The F.Y.R.E. Initiative empowers the gxrls they work with, also known as Igniters, through a curriculum incorporating social justice education, positive identity development, and civic engagement. Through the changes put in place in response to COVID-19, our staff members have found ways to keep participants engaged in their curriculum.
Building strong partnerships
The F.Y.R.E. program is continuing to work with a number of schools through virtual learning, including the Sarah Greenwood School and Match Public Charter. They also work with community groups to facilitate Out of School Time connection. This fall marks the beginning of F.Y.R.E.’s partnership with the Roxbury Tenants of Harvard and the continuation of our work with Boston Police Department’s mentorship program Girls Reflecting Our World (GROW). While most of our recent F.Y.R.E. sessions have taken place virtually, we have had the chance to lead in-person, outdoors summer sessions through our partnership with GROW.
Creating virtual tools to outlast virtual sessions
A key aspect of The F.Y.R.E. Initiative is hands-on learning and planning. For instance, a group will visually brainstorm ideas together on a white-board or large sticky note. To replicate that in-person experience, the F.Y.R.E. team has developed new virtual tools such as an interactive, virtual white board. Now, Igniters can collaborate on an online workspace, answering questions to get to know each other, which is integral in creating community. Our popular Identity Mask Activity has been adapted into a virtual format, for girls to reflect on and recognize the role of identity and self-esteem in one’s overall health and wellbeing. (If you haven’t already, check out our at-home Identity Mask Activity!)
As the F.Y.R.E. Initiative Program Coordinator, Caiana Luse, stated, these virtual tools will be useful even during in-person sessions. These options help make their lessons more portable and accessible, and sometimes even more fun, for participants. Not only are F.Y.R.E. Igniters able to interact on such a level, but they are also learning how to better navigate the virtual world, which we all know is becoming more and more prevalent in our technological world.
Connecting with students through Instagram
Earlier this year, the F.Y.R.E. team created their Instagram page @yw_fyre! Through this platform, they share upcoming updates from the program, events their participants may be interested in, and features on inspiring women of color leaders. Next up – F.Y.R.E. self-care sessions! Throughout the program, F.Y.R.E. works with girls on cultivating self-knowledge and their self-care practice. They are taking these lessons to Instagram, so that all of their followers can benefit. Their first video on October 28 will focus on self-care tips for winter. Don’t miss out – catch all of their lessons by following @yw_fyre.
If you haven’t already, check out our blog post, “Lessons from F.Y.R.E.: How to prioritize a self-care routine by understanding your needs and emotions.”
Are you F.Y.R.E.’d up? F.Y.R.E. is developing partnerships for Spring 2021!
If you wish to participate in YW Boston’s F.Y.R.E. Initiative or want to learn more about bringing the program to your school or community, please contact TiElla Grimes, F.Y.R.E. Initiative Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About YW Boston’s F.Y.R.E. Initiative
With the F.Y.R.E. Initiative, launched in the Fall of 2019, YW Boston facilitators conduct a 12-15-week leadership development series for girls grades 6th through 9th. The series brings together social justice education, positive identity development, and civic engagement, culminating in small group civics projects. This model takes place in schools or Out of School Time programs, and it is developed to operate in a “girls group” structure rather than a traditional classroom structure. Core to the program is an effort to provide experiential learning opportunities and dialogue to build understanding and increase social-emotional learning.