Summer learning for teen volunteers

UPDATE: This summer’s Forum Theatre Experience at the Oak Park Public Library empowers area youth, offering creative exploration around ways you and others can intervene in—and potentially reduce—bullying. To learn more about the Forum Theatre Experience, watch these videos. Notice the background? It’s a mural also being created by Teen Summer Volunteers. Stay tuned for the finished product in the Main Library Teen Group Study Room. 

With school out and summer in full swing, the Teen Summer Volunteer Program continues to connect and engage kids ages 13-17 at the library.

In its 10th season, the program offers opportunities to learn new skills and perform community service through fun, interactive, learning experiences. In 2017, 68 teens volunteered 814 hours. They also listened to, and learned from, adult mentors who help support the program’s learning and creative teams and initiatives.

  • This summer, one teen team is working on a collective mural project, from concept to completion, for the dedicated teen study room on the Main Library’s second floor. Local artist Tia Etu is mentoring the artists, and a photo of their work in progress is pictured in the image above.
  • Another team, the Forum Theatre Troupe, is developing its dramatic flair for storytelling with guidance and support from the Echo Theater Collective. Join them for a finale performance at Hamburger Mary’s »
  • A third group is focusing on developing and improving important life skills such as goal setting and resume building.

In 2017, during resume-building workshops, participating teens—including recent middle school graduates, recent high school graduates, and home-schooled students—created resumes that captured their previous and newly acquired skills and knowledge, as well as their pro-social efforts to benefit our community.

High School Services Librarian Rachael Bild, who leads the program, explains: “Teens are asked to list volunteer activities that resonate with them, and we discuss how to talk about these tasks using the specialized language of resume bullet points.”

Here’s a snapshot of resume bullet points that teens wrote, based on their experiences in the 2017 program:

  • “Presented my opinion on the Best Fiction for Young Adults list in front of about 100 librarians and students at the American Library Association Annual conference panel.”
  • “Learned about difficult topics from experts, practiced conversational skills revolving around those topics, produced a flyer to promote a Chapbook as a venue for conversations regarding personal experience to difficult topics, and created a collection of artwork and writing for the community reflecting this knowledge.”
  • “Made blankets for hospital patients to help them feel cared for by the community.”
  • “Did STEM experiments with large groups of kids, where we taught them about building structures and creating chemical reactions.”

“The resume-building workshops allowed us to discuss how volunteering at the library builds useful skills, and it gave me a chance to connect with their future goals in a way that was unexpected and exciting,” Bild said.

Bild also provided feedback on the resumes, making connections between themes she saw in their volunteer work and coursework, to help teens think about what kinds of careers might interest them.

This year, the resume-building workshop will be included as a capstone project for all 60 of this year’s teen volunteers.

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