Tyler Cavanagh, Development Associate
On Friday, September 27th the B-READY students participated in Hispanic Heritage Day, celebrating culture and identity while learning about being leaders. The students in our Youth Leadership Corps (YLC) program (grades 6-8) took the lead on developing a program of activities for our LEARN students (grades 1-5) as part of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs September 15th through October 15th 2019. Activities included students creating coloring cooks with flags, images, and famous quotes that reflect Hispanic culture and history, decorating “flag” cookies to represent their own culture, as they define themselves, and outdoor play.
Lead by the YLC Program Coordinator, Latasha Scott, staff provided support for their middle school students, but ultimately let them take the spotlight in running the program. The YLC students experienced first-hand just how much work goes into running programming for over 60 youth, and staff got to see their transition from nervous excitement to pride as they realized the impact that their activities had on the students. The students prepped materials, gave instructions (in English and in Spanish), facilitated the activities, and supported their younger counterparts in an afternoon filled with laughter and fun.
Over 50% of the participants at St. Stephen’s Youth Programs are Hispanic so it is critical that we celebrate their culture and bring these types of events to our community. Speaking with Latasha about the importance of the day, she was excited to talk about why the YLC team hosted the event: “The impact I hope it had on the LEARN students was that these cultures look different but share many different aspects of identities, whether that be through art, like making coloring books, or cooking and just having fun. The impact that I hope it had on YLC was to understand the importance of helping our next generation share their culture and be proud to embrace it.”
Watching the LEARN students engage with each other with meaningful conversations culture and identity was a powerful sight, but the YLC students were the real stars of the day, sharing the knowledge and appreciation for the cultures that define our community and showing their leadership skills in action.
Tyler holds a bachelor's degree in music with a concentration in vocal performance from Westfield State University. With over 15 years of experience in youth work, including licensed camps and childcare, teen leadership programming, mentoring, and arts education, Tyler is excited to bring his experience to the development side of the table. He has a passion for building community and creating opportunities to celebrate diversity and inclusion in all ages but especially in young people. Tyler currently lives on the South Shore where he is an active performer in community theatre, choirs, and recitals.