Yunion Students Embrace Youth Ownership and Creativity
Detroit’s Yunion, a Sexual Risk Avoidance Education (SRAE) grantee administered by the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (APP), has swag in more ways than one. Yunion offers its SWAG Program (Students With Awareness and Goals) to middle schools students in the Detroit-metro area. The program combines art and youth designed messaging to equip and empower program participants to make healthy life choices when faced with life’s challenges. Youth complete a 12-week course which includes topics like self-esteem and decision-making. The course also covers goal setting, conflict resolution, relationships, and adolescent development.
At the end of 12-weeks, students work with a production company to add SWAG messaging to PSAs, skits, plays, and music. Yunion’s use of art helps youth create messages that mean the most to them. According to Ronald Lee, Jr., Yunion’s program manager, “You see lightbulbs go off during class, but the real illumination happens during the PSAs, when the students take ownership and the messaging comes to life.”
SWAG allows students to “teach back” or tell their peers what they’ve learned through community shows and awards luncheons. Certificates and awards are given to participants and winners receive gift cards, movies passes, and trophies. Yunion is always looking for new ways to recognize students’ accomplishments and lead efforts to empower, enable, and equip youth with skills to help them succeed and fulfill their potential.