REACH was created to address a glaring hiccup in the process of refugee integration. We connect refugee youth and their families to people, experiences, and places in the area, while also drawing on their deep cultural knowledge and connections.
REACH's model integrates experiential learning, positive youth development, ecotherapy, and outdoor education principles to inspire leadership, academic success, and connections among refugee youth.
Experiential Learning Theory
is a process by which learning begins with a concrete experience upon which a learner reflects to find meaning (reflective observation). The learner draws conclusions (abstract conceptualization) through reflection and dialogue and finally enters a phase of active experimentation where ideas and conclusions are tested. This process ultimately leads to new experiences and the cycle continues.
Positive Youth Development
is an intentional, pro-social approach that engages youth within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups, and families in a manner that is productive and constructive; recognizes, utilizes, and enhances youths’ strengths; and promotes positive outcomes for young people by providing opportunities, fostering positive relationships, and furnishing the support needed to build on their leadership strengths.
Ecotherapy/ Nature Therapy
is an approach that rests on the idea that people have a deep connection to their environment and to the earth itself. It can involve wilderness or adventure therapy, community gardening or farming, forest bathing or nature meditation, animal-assisted therapy, and/or conservation activities.
involves the transformation of knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors through direct engagement with the outdoors for the personal and social benefit of youth, their families, society and the planet.
KOLB’S EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING CYCLE.
REACH youth actively engage in new experiences.
REACH youth reflect on the experiences, identifying any connections, inconsistencies, or alignment between the experiences and their prior thoughts or feelings about it.
Through individual and group reflection, REACH youth generate new ideas or modify their existing thoughts about an idea in order to draw conclusions and make hypotheses. Why or How did it Happen?
REACH youth plan and test their conclusions or hypotheses by applying their knowledge to new experiences.
Doing / Moving / Playing / Making / Engaging in Experience
REACH'S EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING APPROACH.
Hypothesizing / Planning / Practicing / Testing New Learning
REACH youth decide what they want to learn and set new challenges.
REACH staff, volunteers, and youth gather together in reflection circles before/after each stage of the experience to set goals, express fears, assess feelings, adjust approaches, celebrate success, and affirm new learning.
Reviewing / Watching / Reflecting on Experience
REACH youth reflect on their thoughts and feelings, and common experience.
REACH youth actively engage in an experience.
Thinking / Connecting / Learning from Experience
REACH youth make a plan for the next experience.
REACH youth analyze what they learned & what needs improvement.
Adapted from Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (Vol. 1). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
POSITIVE YOUTH DEVELOPMENT PRINCIPLES.
REACH employs an ecological framework based on Positive Youth Development principles. Our programming connects youth to positive experiences in the following ways:
We focus on strengths and positive outcomes, helping REACH participants to build on their assets and develop the competencies, values, and connections they need for life, school, and work.
We promote youth voice and engagement, through which REACH participants have meaningful, decision-making roles in our programs and activities.
We develop strategies that involve all refugee youth, not just “at-risk” or “gifted” young people.
We involve and engage every element of the community — schools, homes, community members, refugee service providers and advocates, STEAM experts, outdoor recreation and environmental organizations, and others. REACH values our young people, their family members, and community partners throughout the process.
We endorse long-term commitments through community support networks that facilitate the ongoing, developmentally-appropriate support REACH participants need over the first 20 years of their lives.
Adapted from Lerner, R. M., & Lerner, J. V. (2013).The positive development of youth: Comprehensive findings from the 4-H study of positive youth development. Medford, MA: Tufts University, Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development.
REACH'S POSITIVE YOUTH DEVELOPMENT APPROACH.
- Meaningful Engagement
- Active Agency
- Community Connections
Contributions to Self, Community, and to the Environment
ECOTHERAPY / NATURE THERAPY PROCESS.
REACH believes that the health of a human being is directly connected to the health of the earth and its natural ecosystems. Our programming facilitates interactions with nature to enhance healing and growth.
While outside in nature, REACH participants are refreshed by the five sensory effects of the environment.
There is no judgement when out in nature, allowing REACH participants to open up their minds and explore.
REACH participants share their hopes and fears more freely in the comforting confines of the natural environment, relieving themselves of stress and negative energy.
Far away from urban noise and distractions, REACH participants gain clarity and insight about their purpose and identity.
Positive thoughts become energy that instill REACH participants with hope, courage, and confidence.
REACH participants gradually adopt new behaviors and positive outcomes through frequent visits to natural environments.
REACH’S ECO-THERAPY APPROACH.
w/ One's Self
w/ Others &
Adapted from Oh KH, Shin WS, Khil TG, Kim DJ.(2013). Six-Step Model of Nature-Based Therapy Process. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(3):685.