For the past 20 years, Trekkers has combined youth mentoring and outdoor-based education to cultivate resiliency in local youth. Through a unique six-year model, Trekkers connects young people with caring adults and develops character through experiential education. Historical feedback from Trekkers’ students was reviewed and analyzed in a recent Bates College REACH study. The study summarized that Trekkers improves “the overall well-being of the surrounding adolescent population…[with] a long-term, big picture approach to the health of local teens [that helps] them navigate some of the most turbulent times of their lives.”
Although the organization evaluates program effectiveness through these ongoing reviews, Trekkers has not had a formal evaluation tool to measure students’ strengths and resiliencies until now. Last fall, Trekkers formed a partnership with the Program in Education and Afterschool Resiliency (PEAR) (www.pearweb.org) to do exactly that. PEAR is a nationally recognized program that partners with youth-serving organizations, helping them understand and better respond to their students’ social, emotional and behavioral needs. PEAR programs are currently being used in the Boston Public School System, and are also being replicated in other settings across the country.
By partnering with PEAR, Trekkers is planning to build even more resiliency in its students. This exciting new partnership will focus on the use of a PEAR tool called the Holistic Student Assessment (HSA). The HSA profiles youth development as a holistic interaction between four core areas: Active Engagement (engaging the world physically), Assertiveness (expressing voice and choice), Belonging (social connection and relationships) and Reflection (thought and meaning-making). Trekkers will use the HSA to better understand a student’s strengths earlier in their Trekkers experience. The information from the assessment will help the organization identify ways to build upon each student’s resiliencies throughout their time as a Trekker.
Trekkers will begin implementing this new assessment tool within their core programs this spring. Speaking about the implementation, Trekkers’ Executive Director Don Carpenter said, “We believe this is an incredible opportunity. We’re excited to offer this assessment and look forward to partnering with parents to further support the success of our local youth.”
Trekkers is hosting a talk about the PEAR program and HSA assessment in late May featuring the founder of PEAR, Dr. Gil Noam. The talk will be open to all interested community members. For more information about Trekkers or about PEAR, contact the Trekkers office at 594-5095.