The Latino Youth Program provides weekly school-year groups, a leadership program, summer programming and special activities to assist Latino adolescents to develop their assets, positive attitudes and behaviors in the areas of education, self, family, and community that will help them to become positive, contributing members of the community.
The Latino Youth Program assists at-risk Twin Cities Latinos ages 12-18 to develop positive attitudes and behaviors in the areas of education, self, family, and community in order to become positive, contributing members of the community. Latino adolescents and children face cultural and language barriers that make thriving in society more challenging. La Oportunidad provides education that empowers Latino teenagers to develop skills that will help them to solve problems, plan for their futures, and build positive relationships at home and in school that will help them to succeed. Our program for Latino youth is prevention-based and follows the guiding principles established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Search Institute Guidelines for developmental asset building.
A Latino Youth Program Story:
When school began, Arlana was a new 6th grader at Andersen Community School, having just moved from Ecuador. She signed up for the Embajadores Latinos (Latino Ambassadors) after school group. Very soft-spoken and shy, Arlana hardly spoke during the group at first unless directly asked a question. She did not speak any English and was feeling lost in classes during the school day. She deeply missed her family and friends in Ecuador, and was having difficulty adjusting to a new country and school. In the Embajadores Latinos program, we frequently talk about our cultures and families’ country of origin, and share the experience of having family so far away.
It was important for Arlana to belong to this program, which allowed her to communicate with classmates and program coordinator. Her favorite activity was decorating a journal to record her thoughts, feelings, memories and dreams. Arlana took a lot of time designing her journal and filled up six pages with photos of family, friends, and her home in Ecuador. By the end of the school year, after her experience in the Latino Youth Program, Arlana became more open and confident. The group was an important source of support for her in her transition to a new school, country and culture.
The Latino Youth Program includes multiple components designed to create a positive reinforcing environment, including weekly school-year groups, mentoring, one-one-one support, a leadership program, the Annual Latino Youth Leadership Conference, summer program, and special events. Youth are encouraged to interact positively with peers, parents, and teachers. By focusing on early intervention and truancy diversion, La Oportunidad is able to better increase positive behaviors and divert youth from participation in high-risk activities
Themes explored in the Latino Youth Programs include:
- Cultural Identity and Self Esteem
- Positive Relationships
- Personal and Educational Goal Setting
- Self Control and Conflict Resolution
- Decision Making and Problem-Solving
- Leadership Development
- Community Involvement
- Financial Wellness